Australia on Sunday announced a $38 billion spending plan to limit the economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic, as citizens were told to cancel domestic travel plans to slow the virus spread.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the latest Aus$66 billion announced Sunday brought government and central bank measures to support the economy to Aus$189 billion — or nearly 10 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
“These extraordinary times require extraordinary measures and we face a global challenge like we have never faced before. Today’s announcement will provide hope and support for millions of Australians at a time when they need it most,” he told reporters in Canberra.
Small businesses and non-profits will receive cash subsidies of up to Aus$100,000, unemployment payments will be temporarily doubled and pensioners will receive Aus$750 cash.
Workers whose income has fallen by at least 20 percent due to the coronavirus outbreak will be able to access their retirement funds early, with those facing hardship allowed to withdraw up to Aus$20,000 over two years.
Frydenberg said the economic shock was now expected to be “deeper, wider and longer” than was believed just 10 days ago and additional measures would be required.
The country appears poised to slip into recession as a result of the coronavirus outbreak after a record 29-year run of economic growth. Australia has recorded more than 1,200 cases and seven deaths from COVID-19.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government was also “moving immediately” to recommend against non-essential travel, warning stronger measures were imminent to deal with localised outbreaks.
He said work-related trips, the transport of essential supplies and travel on compassionate grounds could continue but people should cancel any other travel plans ahead of the upcoming Easter school holidays.