Government admits $60bn JobKeeper error.
The federal government has been left red-faced after a reporting error resulted in the cost of its wage subsidy program being slashed by $60 billion.
Treasury and the tax office have revised the cost of the pandemic-prompted JobKeeper program down to $70 billion from $130 billion.
A “significant” error was made by about 1,000 businesses when reporting the number of employees estimated to receive help.
The program is now forecast to help 3.5 million employees instead of 6.5 million.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg argues it’s a positive result because the recovery bill has reduced, putting less stress on the budget.
“This revision by Treasury is not an invitation to go and spend more. All the money that the government is spending during the coronavirus period is borrowed money,” he told the ABC.
The government continues to resist pressure from Labor to extend the program, with shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers saying the coalition is deliberately leaving workers behind.
“This kind of serious economic incompetence is a threat to jobs, the economy and the recovery,” he said.
There were 15 new cases of COVID-19 across the country on Friday, with the number of active cases rising to just over 500.
The national death toll stands at 101.