Australians in isolation with COVID-19 have received nearly $6million a day in pandemic leave since July 20 and claims are being checked for potential fraud, Government Services Minister Bill Shorten has revealed.
Speaking to Radio National earlier, Shorten would not comment on whether the payments should be extended at the national cabinet meeting tomorrow – but said they had cost $320 million since July 20. Half a million people claimed up to $750 per period of isolation (totaling an average of $5.8 million per day).
“It will be an issue for the national cabinet to discuss. I can certainly understand the argument you’re making if you’re forced to stay at home…there should be a payment,’ the minister said, adding that the ongoing cost of the scheme has to be ‘weighed against that’.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews will argue at tomorrow’s meeting that people forced to stay home and miss work must receive financial support if mandatory isolation, reduced from seven to five days at the end of last week, continues.
The payments, which are now split 50/50 between the federal and state governments, have previously been revealed to have cost the federal budget nearly $1.9 billion from their inception in August 2020 through July 2022.
“One of the things we do is make sure people who submit claims aren’t submitting false claims,” Shorten said.
“What happens is that [when] you submit a claim online, you must have proof of a PCR or that you have a…test that the state abides by.
The online application form requires people to declare that they have no sick leave available, he added.
“If there is a red flag, that is then checked by a human from Services Australia just to sort of see if the claim should proceed or not. But I think the vast majority of people are doing the right thing.