Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s latest press conference saw the confirmation of a $66 billion second stimulus packaged intended to “cushion the blow” to households and to support businesses.
The package sees Australia’s “safety net” enhanced in an unprecedented way.
The Prime Minister stressed, “first and foremost, this is a health crisis,” and all Australians are enlisted in this battle.
Again, he commented that the medical advice is very clear, and there is no quick solution to this crisis. The measures must be sustainable and scalable.
“We have to change the rules for this period,” he said.
The next meeting of the National Cabinet has been brought forward to this evening, and South Australian Premier Steven Marshall will be holding a press conference today regarding an update on state measures.
Details of the press conference are outlined below.
Non-Essential Travel Cancelled
The Prime Minster stated, after consulting with Premiers and Chief Ministers overnight, the government is moving to recommend against all non-essential travel in Australia.
“All non-essential travel should be cancelled,” said the Prime Minister.
Essential travel is still deemed to include work, healthcare movements, and compassionate grounds, with full list to come.
The Prime Minister stressed that to fight the virus, Australians must comply with the social distancing measures that have been put in place.
According to the Prime Minster, it is the one of the most, if not the most “important weapon” against the spread of coronavirus, which means saving lives and saving livelihoods.
“What happened at Bondi beach yesterday was not okay,” said the Prime Minister.
He went on to say that it served as a message to federal and state leaders that too many Australians are not taking these issues seriously enough, and more “draconian” measures to enforce social distancing may need to be employed.
The Prime Minister gave what he called a “simple plea.”
“We need you,” he said. “We need you to do your bit.”
Further and stronger measures are expected to be put in place to deal with local outbreaks within state jurisdictions.
$66 Billion Second Stimulus Package
A second economic stimulus package has been announced with $66 billion worth of measures.
Small to medium businesses and eligible not-for-profits are set to receive a cash payment of up to $100,000.
The package also includes relief for retirees and carers.
In addition to the $750 stimulus payment announced on 12 March, the Government will provide a further $750 payment to social security and veteran income support recipients and eligible concession card holders.
This does not include those receiving an income support payment eligible for the Coronavirus supplement.
The second payment will be made automatically from 13 July to around five million social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders, with around half of these people being pensioners.
The first payment will be made from 31 March to people who will have been on one of the eligible payments any time between 12 March 2020 and 13 April 2020.
Early Access To Superannuation
The Government will allow individuals in financial stress as a result of the Coronavirus to access a portion of their superannuation.
Individuals will be able to apply online through myGov for access of up to $10,000 of their superannuation before 1 July 2020.
They will also be able to access up to a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 for another three months.
There will be no need to pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.
SME Cash Payments
Employing small businesses will receive a tax-free, cash payment of at least $20,000, with larger SMEs to receive up to $100,000.
Not-for-profits with an annual turnover of less than $50 million will also be eligible for the payment.
Under the enhanced scheme from the first package, employers will receive a payment equal to 100 percent of their salary and wages withheld (up from 50 per cent), with the maximum payment being increased from $25,000 to $50,000.
In addition, the minimum payment is being increased from $2,000 to $10,000. The payment will be available from 28 April 2020.
By linking the payments to business to staff wage tax withholdings, businesses will be incentivised to hold on to more of their workers.
The payments are tax free, with no new forms required, and payments to flow automatically through the ATO.
The government has called it “supercharging our safety net,” with the SME cash payments the single largest measure in the second package.
The total support package figure has now reached $189 billion, which is around 10% of the size of the economy. This is unprecedented for Australia.
“We know that there is more to do and we will continue to do what it takes,” said Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
The Prime Minister said this set of measures is about looking to the next six months, and conserving the businesses that comprise our economy so that on the other side, they can bounce back strongly.
This measure will benefit around 690,000 businesses employing around 7.8 million people, and around 30,000 not-for-profits (including charities).
Jobseeker Support Doubled
The support package will see the jobseeker allowance doubled, with an additional $550 per fortnight available on top of the usual rate.
Both the assets test and waiting period have been waived, however the income test is still in place.
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