ATO lets nearly 500 000 Aussies access $3.8b in super: PM

Nearly 590,000 JobSeeker and other related applications have been processed in the past few weeks, the Prime Minister has revealed in his economic update.

"That is more than we do in a year," Mr Morrison said.

"That has been an extraordinary effort from those services."

Scott Morrison went into greater detail about a possible lifting of social distancing rules, saying that rate of transmission figures would be released tomorrow.


"We are one week down and we are making good progress," Scott Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

"That also involves making good progress on things like testing kits, personal protective equipment, respirator supplies, the status of those and the supply lines are in place and they are strong and that is enabling us, I think, to make a lot of progress.

"We are on the road back and that is demonstrated by the measures that we already have taken and we are on the way back to a COVID-safe economy as well, which is what we have to achieve."

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said 275,000 business had applied for the JobKeeper scheme.

Prime Minister elect Scott Morrison and Deputy leader of the Liberal party Josh Frydenberg leave after a Liberal party room meeting at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, August 24, 2018. Malcolm Turnbull has vacated the leadership position after a second spill motion was instigated.  (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg have given an economic update. LUKAS COCH


The ATO has approved 466,000 applications to access super totalling $3.8 billion. The average withdrawal is around $8,000, Mr Frydenberg said.

"Those applications are now with the superannuation funds for their payment over the next five days," he said.

"The average withdrawal is around $8000. And just to remind you that you can access up to $10,000 from your super this financial year and up to another $10,000 next financial year."

It comes amid revelations Australia has been forced to pay "premium prices" for masks and personal protective equipment as global demand soars during the coronavirus pandemic.

Banks have been ordered to prioritise helping businesses lacking the cash flow needed to pay their workers $1500 a fortnight until the JobSeeker scheme kicks in.

The big four lenders have agreed to set up a dedicated hotline for customers seeking short term loans to pay their workers until the government's wage subsidy starts on May 1.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg discussed the issue with the banks on Thursday morning, after concerning reports many business owners weren't getting the funds they needed fast enough.

"It was a very productive discussion. And we emphasised the need for the banks to provide support to those businesses," Mr Frydenberg said.

"They have agreed to set up, each of these four major banks, a dedicated hotline for their customers to call to receive the bridging finance necessary to pay their staff, ahead of receiving that money under the JobKeeper program."

Mr Frydenberg said the banks had also agreed to "expedite the processing of all those applications to the front of the queue".

"So our message today is, if you are a business or a not-for-profit that is eligible for the JobKeeper payment, as required, you need to pay your staff ahead of receiving the money from the Tax Office," he said.

"Go to your bank. Ring their hotline. Ask for that support. And that support with be forthcoming."

The JobKeeper payments from the government through the ATO to businesses will be backdated to March 1, but many employees have had no income while waiting for the scheme to kick at the start of May.

The government told businesses they could pay employees $1500 a fortnight backdated to March 1 with "confidence" of getting that reimbursed in May, but most employers have reported lacking the cash to do so.

Those that then turned to banks for a loan have struggled to secure the funding quickly, prompting the government's intervention.