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Australian federal government to table virus stimulus package

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Australian federal government to table virus stimulus package

australia stimulus
Photo: Reuters/Daniel Munoz

Australia’s federal parliament will meet today to debate and vote on Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s $10.2 billion stimulus package to combat the economic fallout from the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

The first phase of the economic stimulus announced on March 12 aims to assist low-income earners, small and medium-sized businesses and regions particularly affected by the outbreak. A second $38 billion package was unveiled yesterday.

In accordance with social distancing measures, a streamlined parliament with only 90 members of the 151-strong House of Representatives and a reduced number of Senate lawmakers will gather and likely pass the legislation in haste.

Among other recipients, the stimulus includes a one-off lump-sum payment of $434.50 for six million low-income earners. The government hopes recipients will quickly spend the payment and stimulate growth in an economy forecast to contract by 6% this year—almost certainly bringing an end to Australia’s record run without a recession.

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The Morrison government hopes the various stimuli will stave off an economic slump. However, uncertainty still abounds and current forecasts could easily become obsolete if the fast-moving pandemic, which has already resulted in 1,302 confirmed Australian cases and 7 deaths, overwhelms the country’s healthcare system. Morrison has left open the prospect of an eventual lockdown if the public fails to self-isolate. Keeping consumers and their money at home for weeks would thwart the benefits of the stimulus packages and make a recession highly likely.

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