9 April 2020
Note: This COVID-19 information was curated by Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator for Western Australia.
JOBKEEPER LEGISLATION NOW LAW
Yesterday marked one of the most important days in the Parliament’s history with the passage of legislation to support the Morrison Government’s $130 billion JobKeeper Payment.
This unprecedented level of financial support will save millions of jobs and keep families together, businesses in business and preserve the productive capacity of the Australian economy.The $1,500 per fortnight JobKeeper payment is the equivalent of about 70 per cent of the median wage and represents about 100 per cent of the median wage in some of the most heavily affected sectors, such as retail, hospitality and tourism.It will be available to full-time and part-time workers, sole traders and casuals who have been with their employer for 12 months or more. Importantly, it will apply to the many Australians working in the not for profit sector.Combined with the Government’s previous actions, this totals $320 billion or 16.4 per cent of GDP in economic support to Australian businesses, households and individuals affected by the Coronavirus puts Australia in the best possible position to bounce back stronger than ever.Eligible businesses can apply for the payment online and are able to register their interest via ato.gov.au
For more information on the JobKeeper Payment click here
AUSTRALIA’S AAA CREDIT RATING REAFFIRMED
Australia’s AAA credit rating has been reaffirmed by Standard & Poor’s (S&P) in an expression of confidence in the Morrison Government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and our record of prudent economic and fiscal management.In its report, S&P notes that Australia’s “strong fiscal performance remains a credit strength” and that “while fiscal stimulus measures will soften the blow presented by the COVID-19 outbreak and weigh heavily on public finances in the immediate future, they won’t structurally weaken Australia’s fiscal position. This expected improvement is a key supporting factor of our ‘AAA’ rating.”
The report confirms Australia as one of only 10 countries which has a AAA credit rating with all three major ratings agencies.However S&P also recognised that “the COVID-19 outbreak has dealt Australia a severe economic and fiscal shock” and has put our AAA rating on a negative outlook which is defined as a one third probability of a downgrade over the next two years.
S&P’s action reaffirming Australia’s AAA rating, is a reminder of the importance of maintaining our commitment to medium term fiscal sustainability.Our disciplined economic and budget management, which saw the Federal Budget return to balance for the first time in 11 years, meant the Budget as noted by S&P “was on track to achieve a surplus in fiscal 2021 before the COVID-19 outbreak”.
Our measures are temporary, targeted and proportionate to the challenge we face and will ensure Australia bounces back stronger on the other side, without undermining the structural integrity of the Budget which Australians have worked so hard to restore.
GOVERNMENT MODELLING ON CORONAVIRUS RESPONSE
The Government has released the modelling behind Australia’s Coronavirus response
It shows how the virus could spread through the Australian population under different scenarios but does not predict the future or factually represent Australia’s current position.
Early data suggests physical distancing and other measures taken in Australia are slowing the growth in cases to a point where the health system can meet expected demand.
If we continue with our strategy of isolation, quarantine and social isolation, we expect that our health system will cope with the projected peak in cases.
The Australian Government is boosting our intensive care unit (ICU) bed capacity to around 7,000 beds.
The modelling compares the peak daily ICU bed demand under 3 different scenarios:
Australia will continue using the tools we have to control the disease:
The more effective these measures are, the slower the spread of the disease.
This means care will be available when and where Australians need it.
MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT
The Government is acutely aware of the need to provide support for the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians.
The Government is funding and bolstering the capacity of mental health support providers including Lifeline and for Kids Helpline who have experienced an unprecedented surge in call volumes.
Funding is also being provided to train volunteer visitors, to connect with older Australians in aged care to assist them keep in touch with loved ones.
The Government’s digital mental health portal Head to Health (www.headtohealth.gov.au) will be a single source of authoritative information and guidance on how to maintain good mental health how to access mental health services and care.
We are also funding a dedicated coronavirus wellbeing support line 1800 512 348 delivered by Beyond Blue.
The Australian Government has also released a Coronavirus App and Whatsapp channel.
The App is available on both Android and iPhones.
To access the Whatsapp channel, you can go to the website here: www.aus.gov.au/whatsapp
Alternatively you can contact the business.gov.au support line at 13 28 46.