Scott Morrison announced the $130 billion package today. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

$130bn wage subsidy scheme revealed

Businesses and non profits suffering big falls in turnover will receive subsidies of up to $1,500 per worker per fortnight under the federal government's new Jobkeeper program, with up to 6 million people to be supported.

The payment will last for six months, will be at a flat rate for all employees, regardless of income, and include casual or part time workers who have been engaged more than a year.

It will cover all employees on the payroll as at March 1.

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To be eligible, a business must have suffered a fall in turnover of at least 30 per cent, or 50 per cent for those with turnover of more than $1 billion.

The payments will flow in May, backdated from today.

Employers will have the abilty to offer a top up for employees on a higher wage, or other benefits.

It takes the total government spending to combat the COVID-19 pandemic to about $230 billion, with a further $90 billion funding facility from the Reserve Bank of Australia.

All up, the packages are worth 16 per cent of GDP.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the payment would equal 70 per cent of the national minimum wage, and for workers in hospitality, accommodation and retail, a full median replacement wage.

Mr Morrison said the scheme was not just designed to keep people in work, but to keep people in pay.

"Now is the time to dig deep, we are living in unprecedented times,” he said.

Governments were making decisions like they never have before, Mr Morrison said.

"I hope and pray they never have to again,” he said.

"Our principles and values as Australians will guide us through this unchartered territory.

“Many countries in the months ahead may well see their economies collapse … in the very worst of circumstances we may see countries themselves fall into chaos.

"That will not be Australia.”

Businesses, not workers, will register for the scheme through a portal on the Australian Taxation Office website.

It comes after Myer became the latest big business to stand down staff on Friday, with the retailer closing all its stores.

That meant 10,000 people stood down.

Other businesses recently standing down staff have included airlines Qantas (20,000 people) and Virgin (8,000 people).

Supermarket chain Coles has reportedly said it is looking to hire 5,000 more staff, in addition to 7,000 new hires in the past fortnight.

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