Australian workers on JobKeeper wage subsidies are having their payments slashed by hundreds of dollars per fortnight.
The $1500 fortnightly payment is being cut to $1200 for full-time workers and halved for part-time staff.
Labor and the unions have described the reductions as cruel and premature given many businesses, especially those in Victoria, are still reliant on the scheme.
But Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack insists it is time to wind down the supports.
“We’ve done everything to make sure we’ve supported the economy, supported workers still being attached to their businesses,” he told the ABC on Monday.
“But it’s time for Australians to get back to work.”
The cuts come days after coronavirus supplements for welfare recipients were reduced by $300 per fortnight.
Victoria recorded just five new cases of coronavirus on Monday, the lowest figure in more than three months.
Pressure is mounting on the state government to ease more lockdown restrictions.
City-wide curfews for Melbourne residents have been scrapped as case numbers remain low.
But people are still banned from travelling further than five kilometres from their homes and are only allowed to exercise for two hours each day.
Primary school students and those in year 12 will soon return to the classroom, while gardeners and sole traders in similar roles will be allowed to return to work.
Victoria also recorded another three deaths on Monday, taking the national toll to 875.
The state’s 14-day rolling average, which is a critical marker for easing restrictions, has fallen to 20.3 in metropolitan Melbourne and remains stable across the regions.
Infection rates are fairly negligible across the rest of the country.
The federal government extended support for struggling domestic airlines on Monday, while encouraging intransigent states to ease border restrictions.
Tasmania, Western Australia and Queensland still have strict controls in place.
“We want those premiers of a state who have very tight lockdowns to ease those restrictions, because what we need to have our planes back in the air,” Mr McCormack said.
“People want to travel, particularly as we approach these warmer months where people want to go on holidays, they want to catch up with their loved ones over Christmas.
“It’s not good enough that we have tight lockdowns, border restrictions that are preventing many people from travelling where they want to be around this great nation.”
NSW recorded no new cases for the first time since June 10 on Sunday, but health officials urged people to remain vigilant during school holidays.