Coronavirus: More than 200,000 register for government support

Queues at the Woden Centrelink in March. Picture: Karleen Minney
Queues at the Woden Centrelink in March. Picture: Karleen Minney

More than 200,000 applications for the Job Seeker payment have been finalised in the past few weeks, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in his opening statement to Parliament on Wednesday.

In an address outlining the $300 billion in measures announced by the government already, Mr Morrison confirmed how many of the thousands of people seen lining up outside Centrelink offices, had managed to have their applications processed.

"Thousands of extra workers have been recruited to ensure we can move through the claims still outstanding as quickly as possible," Mr Morrison said.

The MyGov website crashed and thousands lined up outside Centrelink offices after the government announced measures to stem the spread of coronavirus that effectively shut the hospitality sector overnight.

The unemployment rate in Australia is set to sharply increase in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

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It is likely almost a million Australians will now be receiving the Job Seeker payment, formerly called Newstart, of which there were almost 700,000 recipients before coronavirus caused industries like hospitality, retail and entertainment to shut their doors almost overnight.

Services Australia, the agency that administers government payments is hiring 5000 extra staff to process payments, with some public servants moved from other agencies to speed up the time it takes.

The government has doubled the amount received under the payment, to $550 a week.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics nearly half of Australian businesses have made changes to their workforce arrangements due to coronavirus, and 70 per cent of food and accommodation businesses had temporarily reduced staff hours.

Parliament sits on Wednesday to pass the Job Keeper wage subsidy legislation, for which more than 700,000 businesses have already registered.

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This story More than 200,000 register for government support first appeared on The Canberra Times.