Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg today (Sunday 22 March) announced a second $66 billion tranche of fiscal measures and flagged than more rescue packages are almost certain.
This brings current government measures to bolster the economy and assist businesses and individuals to $189 billion, which represents around 10% of Australia’s GDP.
Frydenberg said today in Canberra: “This is not about ‘set and forget’. This is the second package of stimulus measures and more are likely.”
Morrison said: “This will not be the Treasurer and my last visit to these podiums to make announcements on these measures. This is focusing on those who are going to feel the first blows. There will be more packages and more support.”
The measures announced today include assistance to small and medium sized businesses, including grants and government-guaranteed loans, extensive help for people on welfare benefits, assistance for retirees, carers, casuals and sole traders.
Kate Carnell, Australian Small Business Ombudsman, said it was “a very good package” and very much in line with what the business community had been seeking.
“It’s a huge shot in the arm for small businesses and for sole proprietors,” Carnell said.
Frydenberg said the measures were in three parts and contained 10 separate initiatives, including these:-
- There will be grants of up to $100,000 for small to medium sized businesses to help them maintain their employee levels. Frydenberg said SMEs will receive at least $20,000 each and some will receive as much as $100,000. He said this was a $31.9 billion lifeline to hundreds of thousands of employers and their staff.
- There is also assistance for 30,000 not-for-profit organisations and for sole traders.
- Another to support SMEs involved government-guaranteed unsecured loans in a 50-50 partnership with lenders, with up to $250,000 in individual loans for up to three years starting in early April. “I urge small and medium sized businesses to go and talk to your banks,” Frydenberg said.
- The announcement included regulatory measures to provide relief to businesses and their directors in financial trouble.
- Australians on welfare benefits will receive an extra $550 a fortnight to help them in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. A coronavirus supplement will be added to JobSeeker (formerly known as Newstart), Youth Allowance, parenting payment and farm household allowance special benefit for a period of six months. Waiting times and asset tests for the Jobseeker allowance will be waived.
- The government will also provide another $750 payment to people on social security and veteran benefits, on top of the $750 given out in the first round of stimulus measures.
- Australians suffering financial hardship during the coronavirus crisis will now be able to access up to $10,000 of their own superannuation. Eligible people will be able to apply to access their super accounts through MyGov before July 1 2020. Frydenberg said the withdrawals would be tax-free. “If you are a sole trader or a casual and you have seen your income or your hours of work fall by 20% or more as a result of the coronavirus, you will be able to get early access to your superannuation,” the Treasurer said.