Tag: Coronavirus Australia

Australia’s three-step staggered measures to relax COVID-19 restrictions

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By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, 8 May 2020: Australia’s three months staggered 3-step roadmap to dilute Coronavirus restrictions starting this month is likely to generate 850,000 jobs by the end of July. Prime Minister Scott Morrison today announced at a nationally televised media conference his ‘go back to work in a COVID-19 safe environment and getting the economy back to a more sustainable level’ plan finalized by the National Cabinet, which met today morning. The plan to be reviewed in three weeks will see individual states deciding their course of actions as per their objective situations.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews addressing a media conference here said he will announce the changes to the rules in Victoria on Monday (11 May 2020).

There have been 6,899 confirmed cases in Australia and sadly 97 people have died. There are now only around 1,000 active cases in Australia, and over the past week, daily infection rates have remained low. Testing remains high, with more than 730,000 tests undertaken in the country.

Australia has so far been highly successful in ‘flattening the curve’. The number of new COVID-19 cases in Australia each day is very low. We can now begin to take careful steps to ease some of the restrictions that have helped us suppress the spread of this virus.

The PM said, “We are confidently and cautiously taking the first step to lifting restrictions. Our success so far means we have slowed the spread of COVID-19 and built the capacity in our health system to manage the impact of the virus. We can now start to progressively ease the restrictions we have in place. The AHPPC has provided strong advice on the conditions that must be met as we establish COVID safe ways of working and living so that we can reopen parts of the economy in the safest possible way while living with COVID-19. This means that many Australians can start getting out to the shops, undertaking some local trips and travel, visiting playgrounds and public parks, and having friends and family around with a bit more freedom.

But the National Cabinet is very clear: continued suppression of COVID-19 is about collective action. Success depends on maintaining our new community norms – physical distancing, good hygiene practices, and downloading the COVIDSafe app to keep us all safe while we are out and about.

For businesses, this also means taking the time to prepare and develop a plan to operate in a COVID safe way to protect their customers and workers. With every one of us playing our part, we should all feel safe and confident in leaving the house and starting to do some of the things we’ve missed in the last few months – like getting back to work, having a quick bite in a restaurant or cafe, attending auctions and open houses, and participating in group exercise.”

For each of the major areas of restrictions we have set out three key steps between where we are now and where we want to be.

·Step 1 will focus on carefully reopening the economy, and giving Australians opportunities to return to work and social activities, including gatherings of up to 10 people, up to 5 visitors in the family home and some local and regional travel

·Step 2 builds on this with gatherings of up to 20, and more businesses reopening, including gyms, beauty services and entertainment venues like galleries and cinemas.

·Step 3 will see a transition to COVID safe ways of living and working, with gatherings of up to 100 people permitted. Arrangements under step 3 will be the ‘new normal’ while the virus remains a threat. International travel and mass gatherings over 100 people will remain restricted.

See the above graphic for a detailed plan of the three steps.

” National Cabinet also committed – as part of the three-step plan – to regular reviews and stocktake assessments of our progress every three weeks. We will be closely monitoring the situation as restrictions are eased. This will enable us to assess the impact of changes, track progress against our agreed precedent conditions, determine the pace of moving through the steps, and make any further decisions. The AHPPC and National Cabinet were very firm on this. We are prepared for an increase in case numbers or possible outbreaks, but relapse should not be an option. A second wave is not something we can afford to go through. The cost to our people, our economy, our social fabric, is too high. We should look to build success in each step, and move forward safely and with confidence, ” the PM said.

Addressing the media conference the PM said the ” National Cabinet again encouraged Australians to download the COVIDSafe app to ensure that we can protect Australians and reset baseline restrictions. More than 5.3 million Australians have already downloaded the COVIDSafe app. This is an enormous achievement, but more is needed.”

$17.6 b economic stimulus to counter coronavirus challenges

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By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 12 March 2020: The Morrison Government today announced a $17.6 billion economic plan to keep Australians in jobs, keep businesses in business and support households and the Australian economy as the world deals with the significant challenges posed by the spread of the coronavirus.

The package has four parts:

- Supporting business investment;
- Providing cash flow assistance to help the small and medium-sized business to stay in business and keep their employees in
jobs;
- Targeted support for the most severely affected sectors, regions, and communities and
- Household stimulus payments that will benefit the wider economy.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said as part of the plan up to 6.5 million individuals and 3.5 million businesses would be directly supported by the package.

“Just as we have acted decisively to protect the health of the Australian people, based on the best evidence and medical advice, our support package responds to the economic challenges presented by this pandemic in a timely, proportionate and targeted way,” the Prime Minister said.

“Our plan will back Australian households with a stimulus payment to boost growth, bolster domestic confidence and consumption, reduce cash flow pressures for businesses and support new investments to lift productivity.

“Australia is not immune to the global coronavirus challenge but we have already taken steps to prepare for this looming international economic crisis.

“We’ve balanced the budget and managed our economy so we can now use this to protect the health, wellbeing and livelihoods of Australians.

“Our targeted stimulus package will focus on keeping Australians in jobs and keeping businesses in business so we can bounce back strongly.

“The economy needs temporary help right now to bounce back better so the livelihoods of all Australians are protected.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said Australia is approaching the economic challenge from the Coronavirus from a position of strength with IMF and the OECD both forecasting Australia to grow faster than comparable countries including the UK, Canada, Japan, Germany, and France.

“Our plan keeps businesses operating, supports jobs and provides a stimulus to households,” the Treasurer said.

“The Government has worked hard over the last six and a half years to return the budget to balance so we have the flexibility to respond to the serious economic challenges posed by the Coronavirus.”

“Given Australia’s strong economic and fiscal position, the international credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s indicated that temporary stimulus would be “unlikely to strain Australia’s creditworthiness.

“In our response, we have been very careful not to repeat the mistakes of previous stimulus programs and not undermine the structural integrity of the budget.

“Today’s announcement will provide the support businesses need to stay in business and keep Australians in a job.

“By acting decisively this package will put Australia in the strongest possible position to deal with the economic challenges we face and to make sure our economy bounces back even stronger.”

Delivering support for business investment

$700 million to increase the instant asset write off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 and expand access to include businesses with an aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million) until 30 June 2020. For example, assets that may be able to be immediately written off are a concrete tank for a builder, a tractor for a farming business, and a truck for a delivery business.
$3.2 billion to back business investment by providing a time-limited 15-month investment incentive (through to 30 June 2021) to support business investment and economic growth over the short term, by accelerating depreciation deductions. Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct an additional 50 percent of the asset cost in the year of purchase.
These measures start today and will support over 3.5 million businesses (over 99 percent of businesses) employing more than 9.7 million employees or 3 in every 4 workers. The measures are designed to support business sticking with an investment they had planned and encouraging them to bring investment forward to support economic growth over the short term.

Cash flow assistance for businesses

$6.7 billion to Boost Cash Flow for Employers by up to $25,000 with a minimum payment of $2,000 for eligible small and medium-sized businesses. The payment will provide cash flow support to businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million that employ staff, between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2020. The payment will be tax-free. This measure will benefit around 690,000 businesses employing around 7.8 million people. Businesses will receive payments of 50 percent of their Business Activity Statements or Instalment Activity Statement from 28 April with refunds to then be paid within 14 days.
$1.3 billion to support small businesses to support the jobs of around 120,000 apprentices and trainees. Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 percent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for up to 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. Where small business is not able to retain an apprentice, the subsidy will be available to a new employer that employs that apprentice.

Stimulus payments to households to support growth

$4.8 billion to provide a one-off $750 stimulus payment to pensioners, social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession cardholders. Around half of those that will benefit are pensioners. The payment will be tax-free and will not count as income for Social Security, Farm Household Allowance and Veteran payments. There will be one payment per eligible recipient. If a person qualifies for the one-off payment in multiple ways, they will only receive one payment.
Payments will be from 31 March 2020 on a progressive basis, with over 90 percent of payments expected to be made by mid-April.

Assistance for severely-affected regions

$1 billion to support those sectors, regions, and communities that have been disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of the Coronavirus, including those heavily reliant on industries such as tourism, agriculture, and education. This will include the waiver of fees and charges for tourism businesses that operate in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Commonwealth National Parks. It will also include additional assistance to help businesses identify alternative export markets or supply chains. Targeted measures will also be developed to further promote domestic tourism. Further plans and measures to support recovery will be designed and delivered in partnership with the affected industries and communities.
The Government is also offering administrative relief for certain tax obligations, including deferring tax payments up to four months. This is similar to relief provided following the bushfires for taxpayers affected by the coronavirus, on a case-by-case basis. The ATO will set up a temporary shopfront in Cairns within the next few weeks with dedicated staff specializing in assisting small businesses. In addition, the ATO will consider ways to enhance its presence in other significantly affected regions to make it easier for people to apply for relief, including considering further temporary shop fronts and face-to-face options.

Source: Media Release, PM of Australia.