IT'S BEEN heralded a lifeline for local businesses but New England MP Barnaby Joyce wants the JobKeeper payment wound back sooner rather than later.
Mr Joyce, a former accountant and deputy prime minister, believes the $1500-a-fortnight wage subsidy for workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic will hurt the economy in the long run.
"I hear what the Labor Party have been talking about and that is keeping these stimulus packages going longer," Mr Joyce said, speaking in Tamworth on Monday.
"Of course our hearts say that could work, but of course the accountant side of us says it can't, because it is money that is borrowed and money that has to be repaid.
"One of the peculiar things people have got to understand is this money is borrowed from overseas and in many instances from China, which we have to pay back to them, yet that was the source of the disease in the first place."
The call comes as the country begins to make its way out of the coronavirus crisis earlier than expected, with the state relaxing restrictions from Friday.
The first JobKeeper payments started to flow into local bank accounts last week - something Business NSW said will ensure businesses can survive the pandemic after being forced to shut their doors or turn away customers.
Mr Joyce believes ending JobKeeper early could help the government claw back the debt caused by the pandemic.
But its in opposition to the Coalition's plans.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison hosed down the speculation regarding the $130 million program, saying it was too early to consider JobKeeper's long-term future.
"It would be very premature, I think, to get into speculations," Mr Morrison said.
"What people know is that there's six months of an economic lifeline to the value of $130 billion. And that says to Australians that we will be there for you and we will be there for you to get Australians back into work."
Business NSW regional manger Joe Townsend echoed Mr Morrison's sentiments, saying calls to wrap up the program were premature.
"We haven't seen the economy come back at all," Mr Townsend told the Leader.
"It could be something that could be wrapped up just before the end, but as it stands, JobKeeper should remain in place.
"The government does have to be very smart about its physical budget and not over do it, but given they have granted this, they should certainly see it out through to the end."
Mr Joyce said businesses being allowed to reopen, under strict restrictions, was key to helping kick-start the economy.
"It's really important we get the economy up and running again," he said.
"The reason for that is quite simple, we have gone from a possible $5 billion surplus, to looking at a $130 billion deficit.
"We look like doing that two years in a row.
"What this means is, we are borrowing money again and money has to be repaid and the only people who can repay that money are you people."