Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced an additional $66.1 billion in economic stimulus to combat the impact of coronavirus. 

Including the Government’s first $17.6 billion economic stimulus package, the $90 billion from the RBA and $15 billion from the Government to deliver easier access to finance, this brings the total stimulus so far to $189 billion or 9.7 percent of Australia’s GDP. 

The package includes good news for small businesses, who will have access to tax-free, cash payments of between $20,000 and $100,000 to assist owners to keep staff employed. To be eligible businesses must have am aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and employ staff. The payments are designed to assist business continue paying staff, electricity, rent and other overheads. 

It’s expected about 690,000 businesses will be eligible for the payments, which will be delivered from 28 April 2020. No new forms will be required, with the payments flowing automatically through the ATO. It’s hoped that linking the payment to wage taxes businesses will be incentivised to retain more of their staff. 

The government will also guarantee unsecured small and medium-sized business loans of up to $250,000. Under the Scheme, 50 per cent of new loans issued by eligible lenders to SMEs will be guaranteed. 

The package was revealed ahead of the announcement venues such as restaurants, cafes and bars would be closed across the country from midday on Monday 23 March. Instead, venues can offer delivery and takeaway.

“We want to help businesses keep going as best they can and for as long as they can, or to pause instead of winding up their business,” the Prime Minister said. We want to ensure that when this crisis has passed Australian businesses can bounce back.”

Mr Morrison added, “We will get through this together.”

Support for individuals

For the many hospitality industry workers who have already lost their jobs, the Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments. A time-limited ‘coronavirus’ supplement has also been established and be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight for the next 6 months.

Existing and new recipients of the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit will receive this payment. Eligible income support recipients will receive the full amount of the $550 coronavirus supplement on top of their payment each fortnight.

Image credit: Lukas Coch via AAP

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