Labor calls for Senate inquiry into $60b JobKeeper ‘black hole’

Labor wants Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to front a Senate inquiry to explain the embarrassing $60 billion JobKeeper reporting error.

The government admitted on Friday its JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme to assist business and workers through the COVID-19 pandemic will now be $70 billion rather than $130 billion and will now only cover 3.5 million people rather than 6.5 million that had been forecast.

Opposition frontbencher Penny Wong says it’s a “$60 billion black hole in the economic credibility” of the government.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has attributed the amended costings to a “reporting error”. (Sydney Morning Herald)

“We can’t trust anything Scott Morrison or Josh Frydenberg say about the economy or the budget, and perhaps worse has been the failure to front up and take responsibility,” Senator Wong told ABC television’s Insiders program on Sunday.

She said the chair of the Senate committee into the COVID-19 response Labor’s Katy Gallagher will be calling on Mr Frydenberg to give evidence to the committee.

“What I would say to Josh, this is your opportunity to front up and explain the $60 billion blunder to the parliament and to the Australian people,” she said.

The federal government insists the $60 billion “reporting error” in its JobKeeper scheme is “very good news”, but is showing little sign of wanting to use the unspent money to extend or broaden the program.

However, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will not front the Senate inquiry to explain accounting bungle.

“As the Labor Party know the process for the COVID Committee is that House of Representatives ministers, if required, would appear through their representative ministers in the Senate and be supported by relevant departmental officials like takes place during Senate estimates hearings,” a government spokesperson told 9News.

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