Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a $17.6billion stimulus package, which he said is about “keeping a business in business, particularly small and medium sized businesses”.
In addition to cash injections, subsidies and instant asset write-offs the Government has also pledged $750 in cash payments to pensioners, eligible households and the unemployed with the message to spend, which should help retailers and venues.
The Prime Minister said: “I know many Australians are anxious about this and we do still have a long way to go. But be assured we are taking action and we have a clear plan. The months ahead will present many challenges but we will respond.”
Speaking about the stimulus package, he added: “The cash payments have two purposes, and they are both important.
“Of course, those who receive them, that is obviously a benefit to them. But more importantly it is about a cash injection into the Australian economy, which supports small businesses and supports medium businesses.
“This plan is about keeping a business in business, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, and this plan is about ensuring the Australian economy bounces back stronger on the other side of this and the budget bounces back with it.”
The immediate benefits are direct cash payments to businesses with a turnover of up to $50m. These payments will range in value from $2000 to $25,000 for close to 700,000 eligible businesses.
Businesses who lodge quarterly activity statements will be eligible for the cashflow boost for the quarters ending March and June 2020. For those who lodge monthly activity statements the boost will come with the March, April, May and June 2020 lodgements.
In addition to the cashflow boosts the instant asset write-off has been expanded, with the threshold increased from $30,000 to $150,000. The write-off has also been expanded to include businesses with an annual turnover of $500m, up from $50m.
The Government has also pledged $3.2bn in business investment incentives to drive short-term economic growth. This is available until June 2021 and allows businesses with a turnover of up to $500m to deduct an extra 50 per cent off an asset price.
And with many wineries and other exporters concerned about the impact of a constricting Chinese market because of the coronavirus, the Government has pledged assistance for businesses to identify alternative supply chains or export markets.
Casual workers who miss shifts or are asked to self-isolate because of coronavirus will have wait times abolished for their sickness payments through the welfare system.
In a bid to ensure that casual workers do not suffer financial stress, or do not work when they need to self-isolate, the Fox Hole in Sydney has said it will guarantee the wages of its casual staff.
Woolworths has also said it will continue to pay its casuals if they have to miss work because of COVID-19, with Coles saying it is looking at a similar policy.
In encouraging the recipients of the cash benefits to spend the money, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said: “Spend up on your priorities. Spend up on what matters to you. However you spend it, it will support the economy.”
With coronavirus now considered a pandemic, and US President Donald Trump’s surprise decision to ban flights from Europe from landing in the United States, quite what the impact of COVID-19 will be remains to be seen.
But coronavirus is spread through droplet contact, with the large consensus being that it is not an airborne virus. Health experts and the World Health Organisation say the number one thing you can do to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to wash your hands thoroughly and often.
Washing for 20 seconds only kills some of the potential virus molecules, so the advice is to rub the soap on your hands for 30 seconds. If you can’t wash your hands, hand sanitiser does work as long as it is alcohol-based with at least 60 per cent alcohol.
Additionally avoid touching your face and also avoid touching hard shiny surfaces in public places or on public transport. Stay home if you are sick and cough or sneeze into your elbow, not your hand.