About 4800 businesses and organisations in Eden-Monaro, employing about 18,000 workers, are estimated to be currently accessing the JobKeeper wage subsidy of $1500 a fortnight, paid by the federal government.
Mr Chalmers said there were the local businesses and workers “held hostage” by the Morrison government’s decision to keep the JobKeeper review secret until after the byelection.
The scheme ends on September 27 but could be extended for those sectors most affected by COVID-19. Mr Kennedy handed the report to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg late on Friday, four days ahead of his deadline.
“The Morrison Government received its secret report into JobKeeper last week but has decided to sit on it until after the Eden-Monaro byelection,” he said.
“Businesses are already laying off workers because of the uncertainty this delay is creating.
“Thousands of businesses and workers in Eden-Monaro alone, and millions of workers across the country, are increasingly anxious that they will be left out and left behind during this first recession in three decades.”
Coalition MPs have called for more taxpayer support for hard-hit industries including tourism but are split about whether to continue the subsidy beyond September or replace it with new programs.
Liberal candidate Fiona Kotvojs is contesting the seat for a second time in just over 12 months, having gained 49.15 per cent of the two-party preferred vote against Mr Kelly last May.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday the government was “not rushing” to any decisions and would work carefully through “all the various elements”.
“There are many moving parts in this. This is not a simple issue,” Mr Morrison said.
“When you’re burning through cash at a rate of almost $11 billion a month on JobKeeper, then obviously that’s not something you can continue in that form forever and that’s why the government is being very careful in the considerations we’re having.”
He said there were many businesses which were now seeing an improvement in their turnovers after strict social distancing measures shut down large swathes of the economy.
“It’s good to see some businesses doing better. But there are other businesses that will be at a much reduced level of turnover… particularly in rural and regional areas which have been most affected by the international travel bans, the entertainment sector, the conferences and events sector,” he said.
The Australian Electoral Commission has confirmed postal vote applications for 14-candidate race have more than doubled compared to the total received in last year’s federal election.
The AEC said it may impact the speed of the final count on by-election night with more than 21,000 ballots also having been cast as of Monday at early polling centres.
Rob Harris is the National Affairs Editor for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House in Canberra