Pressure is mounting on the federal government to extend its JobKeeper wage subsidy beyond March in the wake of recent lockdowns and border closures.

But Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the program, which has already given $77bn to businesses, was not the only economic support in place.

"JobKeeper was always intended to be a temporary program," Mr Frydenberg said.

"We extended it for another six months but it is a program that goes until the end of March."

He said the government had put a mosaic of economic measures in place including; tax cuts, support for the tourism and aviation industries, HomeBuilder and JobMaker hiring credit programs.

Speaking at Cotton On Group's distribution centre on Monday, Mr Frydenberg said the retailer was hit hard during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Now, their business and their workers have graduated from JobKeeper as the economy has picked up," he said.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg visits the Cotton On distribution centre at Avalon. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg visits the Cotton On distribution centre at Avalon. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw

Cotton On CEO Peter Johnson said JobKeeper gave the company the confidence to retain staff and plan for the future.

But he remained tight-lipped on how the broader business community would fare once the wage subsidy ended.

"In Australia we had all of our 650 stores closed at one point in time so to have the support of the federal government during that period was incredible," Mr Johnson said.

"When we closed stores customers shifted to our online business, when we reopened they've gone back to shopping centres.

"We'll focus on what we can control and we know that if we produce the right product and the customer wants it in the right way then we will be okay."

Opposition treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers accused the government of being out of touch for alleging some businesses wanted the support cut.

But Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said businesses could not continue to rely on the multi-billion dollar program.

"It's just not sustainable to keep it going in its current form," Mr Willox said.

Originally published as Treasurer's huge JobKeeper blow



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