Hundreds of thousands of Australians are today waking up to an uncertain future, with a surge in job losses expected following the expiry of the JobKeeper wage subsidy on Sunday. Treasury has estimated up to 150,000 jobs may be lost this week, while labour market economist Professor Jeff Borland warns the number could be as high as 250,000. According to the Australian Tax Office, more than one million employees were still relying on the wage subsidy at the end of January. Those who lose their jobs can likely shift to JobSeeker, however that will be reduced from its peak of $1115.70 to $620.80 a fortnight from Wednesday. There are concerns the cuts to support will further the gap between rich and poor, with new analysis by SGS Economics finding lower socio-economic regions of Sydney and Melbourne suffered greater job losses than wealthier areas during the pandemic. But some economic indicators are showing positive signs, with job advertisements increasing by 7 per cent in February. It comes as Labor MP Andrew Leigh proposes that publicly listed companies be forced to disclose exactly how much they received in JobKeeper payments.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s approval has taken a hit in the latest Newspoll, with his satisfaction rating falling from 62 per cent to 55 per cent in the space of two weeks. The survey found no change in Labor’s 52-48 per cent two-party preferred lead, although the Coalition’s primary vote rose one point to 40 per cent. The results come after weeks dominated by news of Morrison’s handling of sexual assault allegations made against his colleagues in Parliament. More allegations have surfaced, with The Australian reporting that Nationals MP Anne Webster made a complaint against someone who harassed her, and Labor has referred to the Australian Federal Police an anonymous sexual assault allegation concerning a senior Labor figure.
The Federal Parliament and Nine Entertainment are both grappling with crippling IT disruptions, though it is unclear whether the two cyber attacks are linked. The disruption at Parliament left many of the building’s occupants without access to email across the weekend. The ABC reports that the attack on an external provider linked to the Department of Parliamentary Services (DPS) was not sophisticated and the system shut down as intended. The Australian Signals Directorate is working with DPS to investigate the issue. It comes as Nine Entertainment was hit by an attack that forced the abandonment of live broadcasts from Sydney during Sunday morning, which were replaced with either pre-recorded or interstate content. iTnews reports that ransomware is believed to be the cause of the problem.
The Covid-19 pandemic is reaching grim new heights in South America, where Brazil’s health system is on the verge of collapse. Last week, Brazil set new records of more than 100,000 new Covid-19 cases confirmed in a single day, 3650 deaths in a single day, and total deaths exceeding the 300,000 mark. Intensive care units are close to capacity and oxygen supplies at hospitals are running low. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has attracted criticism for playing down the threat of the virus, pushing back against lockdowns, and overseeing a slow vaccine rollout. Mexico meanwhile has acknowledged that the country’s true death toll from the coronavirus pandemic now stands above 321,000, almost 60 per cent more than the official test-confirmed number of 201,429.