Finance Minister Simon Birmingham has told Sky News Australia the phasing out of COVID-19 disaster payments is an evidence-based decision.

“There are a number of grounds for doing so [ending payments], most importantly is the fact that we are following evidence in this space, that we’re working off the data and analysis we had undertaken by the Doherty Institute,” Senator Birmingham said.

“What was clear under that Doherty Institute modelling was that 80 per cent double vaccination rates do provide quite high levels of protection across the community.”

Under the new changes, once a state or territory hits a 70 per cent vaccination rate, those living in a Commonwealth hotspot will have to reapply weekly for the payment as opposed to the current automatic system.

The payments will stop entirely after 80 per cent.

“We do need to make this transition because we need businesses to be able to get back to business, to get back to employing, to get back to underpinning our economy, and we need our budget to be able to stabilise as well,” Senator Birmingham said.

“By the time we make these transitions some $20 billion will have been paid purely in relation to assistance around these recent Delta outbreaks as part of more than $300 billion that has been committed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”

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