Greater Ararat Business Network president Maria Whitford hopes the federal government will consider extending its key pandemic wage subsidy program beyond September 27.
The JobKeeper scheme, which sees eligible workers receive a fortnightly payment of $1500 through their employer, was announced by the federal government on March 30. It will end on September 27. Treasury estimates it will cover around 3.5 million Australian employees.
Ms Whitford, who manages Ararat RSL, said the "stop-start" easing of restrictions in Victoria made it hard for businesses to know where they were heading next.
"If you want to relate that to JobKeeper, it should only be stopped when full restrictions are lifted and we can operate for a period of time to regain some revenues back," she said.
"It's a national scheme, so the federal government might stop it in September, but Victoria will still be a few weeks behind the rest of Australia that given the current environment."
Ms Whitford said the RSL had "a lot" of staff on JobKeeper. She said the club would need help until at least the end of 2020.
"I think consumer confidence is down," she said. "We were just about to open for 50 patrons and that hasn't happened because of outbreaks in Melbourne, and I think as a result of that consumer confidence has gone back two or three weeks."
June figures from the Department of Treasury show no Ararat or Grampians postcode was in the top 20 nationwide for businesses that had had applications processed for JobKeeper.
The Ararat Advertiser asked Member for Mallee Anne Webster if she supported calls to extend JobKeeper beyond September.
She responded with a statement.
"JobKeeper was for a specific period of time to assist the economy and businesses to continue to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic," she said.
"It was a safety net and was intended to assist businesses to stay open and engaged with their employees.
"Going forward, we need the economy to start to open back up and businesses to get back on their feet. This is of course dependent on how the COVID-19 pandemic behaves going forward.
"How JobKeeper finishes and when it finishes are matters for the Treasurer to determine.
"Tax payers will not be happy to pay for JobSeeker and JobKeeper indefinitely. The economy cannot afford it. However, employees must be in a position to pay bills, mortgages and rent.
"The key to all of this is for businesses to be able to reopen and grow. A measured, well thought out approach is required and that is what we are focused on."
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