Federal Government's second stimulus package offers $66 billion worth of measures for coronavirus-hit economy

| 22.03,20. 05:35 AM |

Federal Government's second stimulus package offers $66 billion worth of measures for coronavirus-hit economy

PHOTO: The package is designed to help businesses and workers ride out the economic calamity caused coronavirus. (Reuters: David Gray)

Small businesses will be given up to $100,000 to keep their staff employed during the coronavirus crisis, and have their loans guaranteed by the Commonwealth, as part of the Morrison Government's second economic stimulus package.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is set to unveil $66 billion worth of measures today, including relief for retirees and a new wage or "safety net" for workers who lose their jobs.

"There is a lot of pain coming but we're going to cushion the blow as best we can," Mr Morrison said.

Not-for-profits and small businesses will receive a tax-free, cash payment of up of $100,000, with a minimum payment of $20,000 for eligible companies.

The payments will be delivered by the Tax Office as a credit on activity statements from late April.

It builds on the measures included in the first $17.6 billion economic stimulus package announced more than a week ago.

With companies reluctant to borrow, the Commonwealth is also offering to guarantee unsecured loans of up to $250,000 for a term of up to three years.

Designed to help businesses and workers ride out the economic calamity caused by COVID-19, Mr Morrison has likened these economic measures to a bridge.

"We want to help businesses keep going as best they can or to pause instead of falling apart," Mr Morrison said.

"We want to ensure that when this crisis has passed Australia can bounce back."
Taking into account the first round of stimulus, and the measures announced by the Reserve Bank this week, the government said the total economic assistance package was worth $189 billion or the equivalent of 9.7 per cent of Australia's Gross Domestic Product.

The financial impact is so severe and uncertain that this second package is unlikely to be the last.

On Saturday, Shadow Health Minister Chris Bowen repeated Labor's calls for a permanent increase in the Newstart Allowance, or unemployment benefit, to help Australians who find themselves without a job.

"It's similar to the health challenge facing the country; if in doubt, do more," he said.

"And we have said consistently what the Government's done so far, in health and in the economy is good, but not good enough."


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