A stimulus package to help business and those out of work due to coronavirus passed the House of Representatives on Monday, but there are concerns the help is not coming quickly enough.
There are expected to be 1.6 million applicants for welfare that includes a $550 coronavirus supplement for those on Newstart or youth allowance; a $750 payment for those on carers, family tax, seniors health card and disability support benefits; and early access to superannuation.
"That is very significant because that is the people's own money - $10,000 this year, $10,000 next year - which will help cushion the blow," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.
Indi MP Helen Haines said although the $189 billion stimulus package was sensible and necessary, "the measures are not being implemented quickly enough" and it should be a national job to find people alternative work if they have lost their jobs.
"The coronavirus supplement won't be available until 27 April - it's needed today," she said.
"Anyone who loses a job to COVID-19 or the bushfires, should be rapidly retrained to support the health system, or our critical infrastructure and services in this time of crisis.
"Today Centrelink has queues around the block.
"Now is the time for government to drop the public service staffing cap, and ensure we have the workforce to implement decisions being made here today."
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She said the government's attitude to "change the rules" to get assistance to people affected by coronavirus, such as cash transfers with no paperwork, also needed to apply for bushfires victims.
"Because COVID-19 compounds the damage of the bushfires, the bushfire recovery must accelerate, not slow down," Dr Haines said.
"Just as we honoured our emergency services fighting the fires, I want to honour our doctors, our nurses and our allied health professionals and those who support them, who are now preparing for the greatest challenge they will ever face."
Farrer MP Sussan Ley was also in the House of Representatives for Monday's special sitting, but like most Coalition MPs, did not speak on the bill so it could be passed as quickly as possible.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was asked in question time if the government would increase wage subsidy to 80 per cent, but he said Treasury recommended against that move.
"We are working to ensure that those who do have loss to their income, those who do lose their jobs, those who are stood down, those sole traders who can't earn what they did before, can get access to a strengthened safety net to get them through the many months that are ahead," he said.
The stimulus package was still being debated in the Senate late Monday night.
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