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JobKeeper help for charities, not casuals

JobKeeper help for charities, not casuals

Charities will find it much easier to access the JobKeeper wage subsidy program but casual workers won't be so lucky.

Federal Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter is under pressure from unions and Labor to extend the $130 billion program to more casual workers.

But he is digging in to ensure the payment is only available to workers with a 12-month link to a single employer.

"The fundamental principle is not going to change," Mr Porter told ABC radio on Monday.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions has suggested casuals should get the payments if they had a reasonable expectation of ongoing work, were it not for the virus.

"I just don't see that as a workable definition," Mr Porter said.

Meanwhile, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says not-for-profit charities can now apply for the benefit if they've suffered a 15 per cent hit to revenue because of the pandemic.

The scheme, where workers get a fortnightly pay of $1500 per person through their employers, is set to be approved in parliament on Wednesday.

To be eligible, a for-profit company's turnover must have fallen by at least 30 per cent.

Businesses with annual turnovers of more than $1 billion must have suffered a 50 per cent or more fall in revenue.

Nationals backbencher Barnaby Joyce has warned the government against throwing open the cheque book too wide.

"After this is over, with half $1 trillion worth of debt, there is debt on top, it has to be paid back and financed," he told Seven's Sunrise program.

"You have to be diligent, you can't just fulfil every requirement. The nation will put itself in a very bad position if it does that."

COVID-19 has now claimed the lives of 37 Australians, after two more deaths in NSW.

But a number of states have reported lower numbers of new infections.

Australia's Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy is urging the public to continue practising safe social distancing given the concern about cases without a known source.

There are more than 5700 cases confirmed cases across the country and the transmission source is unknown for about 10 per cent of them.

"I may sound like a broken record at times but community transmission is what worries me most of all," Professor Murphy said.

"Those are the reasons we have brought in the social distancing measures and all of those measures to stop the spread."

Professor Murphy is also pleading with Australians to forgo their usual Easter festivities next weekend and remain isolated from extended family.

Meanwhile, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has warned Australians against using dodgy, imported home COVID-19 test kits, saying they pose a risk to public health.

A number of the kits, from China and Hong Kong, have been intercepted by Australian Border Force officers in the past few weeks.