Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: Lukas Coch
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: Lukas Coch

PM rejects Aussie icons’ JobKeeper plea

Scott Morrison has rejected the plea of Tina Arena and Jimmy Barnes to extend JobKeeper for musicians and actors beyond September instead opting for a $250 million COVID-19 lifeline for the arts sector.

The arts funding package, to be known as 'JobMaker', sends a strong signal that the Prime Minister wants to end the $1500 a fortnight JobKeeper wage subsidy and move to assistance packages for specific industries.

The new 'JobMaker' scheme will offer a range of grants and loans to the arts sector of up to $2 million to kickstart music festivals, live gigs, films and tours.

News.com.au understands that Treasury's JobKeeper review is nearing completion and should be finalised next week.

Government sources confirmed that the $12 billion a month JobKeeper subsidy is "unsustainable" in its current form beyond September although assistance packages for specific industries are under consideration.

The Morrison Government is also weighing what the new rate of JobSeeker will be as it is due to 'snapback' from $550 a week to just $275 in September, a proposition many MPs believe is unsustainable.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier this week. Picture: Joel Carrett
Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier this week. Picture: Joel Carrett

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he accepted the arts and entertainment sector was one of the first sectors to be impacted by COVID-19 and the last to return to normal operations as a result of social distancing.

"Our JobMaker plan is getting their show back on the road, to get their workers back in jobs," the Prime Minister said.

"This package is as much about supporting the tradies who build stage sets or computer specialists who create the latest special effects, as it is about supporting actors and performers in major productions."

The arts industry had sought a $345 million package but will instead secure $250 million.

Tina Arena performs during the Fire Fight Australia bushfire relief concert at ANZ Stadium in Sydney in February. February: Joel Carrett
Tina Arena performs during the Fire Fight Australia bushfire relief concert at ANZ Stadium in Sydney in February. February: Joel Carrett

Australian performer and television host David Campbell said the arts industry had asked for a stimulus package for the $111 billion industry, not a handout.

"I think it's a little under, but it is going to help. Every little bit is going to help,'' he said.

"A lot of people didn't qualify for JobKeeper. Its contract-to-contract. It's crew members, set builders, COVID-19 really decimated the industry."

In an open letter this month, 80 musicians including Tina Arena, as well as Jimmy Barnes, John Farnham, Regurgitator, Jessica Mauboy and Gotye had urged the PM to extend the wage subsidy scheme JobKeeper.

They had also sought an expansion of JobKeeper to include musicians who work from gig-to-gig or contract-to-contract

"Our artists and industry are always there to come to the aid of our nation during a crisis. Now it is time for the nation to come to our aid," the letter said.

"Most of the 4000-plus venues that present live music across Australia are closed with no certainty as to when a restart is likely or viable."

 

Jessica Mauboy. Picture: Christian Gilles
Jessica Mauboy. Picture: Christian Gilles

The Morrison Government said the new support package includes:

- Seed Investment to Reactivate Productions and Tours - $75 million in competitive grant funding in 2020-21 through the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund. This program will provide capital to help production and event businesses to put on new festivals, concerts, tours and events as social distancing restrictions ease, including through innovative operating and digital delivery models. Grants of varying sizes will be available, from $75,000 through to $2 million.

- Show Starter Loans - $90 million in concessional loans to assist creative economy businesses to fund new productions and events that stimulate job creation and economic activity. The loans program will complement the RISE Fund and will be delivered through commercial banks, backed by a 100 per cent Commonwealth guarantee.

- Kick-starting Local Screen Production - $50 million for a Temporary Interruption Fund, to be administered by Screen Australia, that will support local film and television producers to secure finance and start filming again, supporting thousands of jobs in the sector. Filming of new productions has largely been halted as insurers are not providing coverage for COVID-19.

- Supporting Sustainability of Sector-Significant Organisations - $35 million to provide direct financial assistance to support significant Commonwealth-funded arts and culture organisations facing threats to their viability due to COVID-19, which may include organisations in fields including theatre, dance, circus, music and other fields. The Government will partner with the Australian Council to deliver this funding.

For more information about COVID-19 and arts support visit: www.arts.gov.au/covid-19-update

Originally published as PM rejects Aussie icons' JobKeeper plea

Jimmy Barnes and Diesel's set during the Music From The Home Front Concert, streaming live for Anzac Day 2020, during COVID-19 Isolation regulations. Picture: Channel 9
Jimmy Barnes and Diesel's set during the Music From The Home Front Concert, streaming live for Anzac Day 2020, during COVID-19 Isolation regulations. Picture: Channel 9

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