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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Sick leave must be used up before virus payment claim: Shorten

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Workers isolating after testing positive to COVID-19 will need to use their sick leave before claiming the pandemic payment.

Government services minister Bill Shorten says employees will also have to show they aren’t able to financially cover the impact of being off work themselves in order to become eligible.

“If you have sick leave, you have to use your sick leave first but I stress, not your holiday leave,” Shorten told the Seven Network’s Sunrise program on Tuesday.

“Also, if you have more than $10,000 in the bank … so it’s not a means test, but if you’ve got liquid assets, then you are not eligible.”

The $750 relief payment will become available from Wednesday, after a change of heart from the Government following an emergency National Cabinet meeting at the weekend.

We had this model that says it doesn’t really matter how much COVID is in the community, we want to protect our elderly and most vulnerable people and keep our hospitals running. That strategy has chosen, or proven, not to work very well.

Burnet Institute chief executive, Professor Brendan Crabb

Treasurer Jim Chalmers says the Government is “flexible” on a possible extension of the payments, which are due to end in September.

Burnet Institute chief executive Brendan Crabb says as the nation grapples with another winter wave, authorities need to look at interventions to keep case numbers at a steady level.

“We had this model that says it doesn’t really matter how much COVID is in the community, we want to protect our elderly and most vulnerable people and keep our hospitals running,” Professor Crabb told the ABC.

“That strategy has chosen, or proven, not to work very well.

“We are going through a rise at the moment that should peak sometime in the next month, it looks like a very worrying high level but they never go low.”

Crabb said a reset was needed to help get cases to a lower baseline, involving more vaccines, measures for more clean air, as well as testing and isolation.

We’re getting there, we’re just a long way behind the eight ball. We have this ‘COVID is in the rear-view mirror’ mentality.

Professor Crabb

He said a collective mentality was also required on renewing strategies or the nation could expect more virus waves.

“We’re getting there, we’re just a long way behind the eight ball. We have this ‘COVID is in the rear-view mirror’ mentality,” Crabb said.

With data still to come from South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and the ACT, more than 36,000 new cases and 69 deaths had been recorded nationwide on Tuesday.

There are more than 342,000 active coronavirus cases Australia-wide, with more than 5100 patients in hospital care.

With case numbers soaring, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has raised cutting the isolation period of seven days for people who test positive, but Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says now is not the time.

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