SA Government unveils $650 million jobs stimulus package as doctor calls for lockdown


March 26, 2020 18:45:22

South Australia’s Premier has labelled new social restrictions “very tough” on business as he unveiled a new $650 million jobs package, but one of Australia’s leading disaster response doctors said the country needed to do far more to combat coronavirus.

Key points:

  • Steven Marshall said SA’s economic response was “the highest per capita” in the country
  • Funds will be set up for businesses and community organisations
  • Dr Bill Griggs believes the “financial, economic and human” outcome will be better if Australia is locked down now

The South Australian Government will give one-off cash payments of $500 to households where at least one breadwinner is out of work as part of a $1 billion stimulus effort to support the state’s economy during the coronavirus crisis.

The package of measures announced by Mr Marshall this afternoon includes deferrals and reductions in land tax and payroll tax, and liquor licensing fees.

One-off payments of $500 will be provided to households where a resident is receiving the Centrelink JobSeeker payment.

The Government will also bring forward 2020–21 cost of living concessions for those households.

This means a job seeker who owns their own home will receive $715.10.

An eligible tenant who is out of work will receive $607.60.

Public servants will also be able to have their leave paid out if a family member loses their job, as long as they keep two weeks of leave on hand.

SA Government’s second stimulus package:

  • $300 million fund for businesses and industries
  • $250 million fund for community organisations and training
  • $60 million in payroll tax relief for businesses
  • $30 million for payments to unemployed people
  • $13 million in land tax relief
  • Liquor licensing fees waived

The SA Government has also promised $300 million in support for businesses and jobs and a further $250 million for community, sporting, art and recreational organisations.

Premier Steven Marshall said the spending was in response to the “unprecedented economic emergency” caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Marshall described South Australia’s total stimulus contribution as “the highest per capita in the entire nation”.

“Today, we announced $650 million worth of further stimulus to really support South Australians through this tough time, but also to aid our recovery out the other side,” he said.

“The crucial thing about this package is to provide some structural support so that we can get this state moving.”

Shadow Treasurer Stephen Mullighan said money from the stimulus package must go to individuals and businesses immediately.

“What we would have liked to have seen is money going into the pockets of businesses and households right now,” Mr Mullighan said.

“Every day for the past 10 days, hundreds of businesses have been closing in South Australia and thousands of workers have been losing their jobs.”

Business SA chief executive Martin Haese called for rent relief for businesses.

“Rental relief measures will help put cash in their tills right now, which is the number one thing businesses need to survive this,” he said.

Together with the $350 million infrastructure stimulus package announced on March 11, the SA Government’s economic response totals $1 billion.

The Government has not released details of what infrastructure it will spend the money on.

When it was released two weeks ago, it said it would include current infrastructure projects being brought forward, as well as new projects around road maintenance, housing, tourism and health.

Doctors calls for stricter social controls

Dr Bill Griggs, who was the South Australian controller for health disasters and emergencies for 10 years until 2017, has called for “everything” to be shut down now.

Dr Griggs criticised the country’s staged introduction to social distancing rules in Australia shortly before the SA Government announced the second phase of its $1 billion economic stimulus package today.

“The reality is we need to all be doing everything we can,” he said.

“I know these restrictions are very tough. They’re particularly tough on small business and employment in South Australia.

“But if we get this right, we will definitely save lives. So it’s really important that we really abide by these restrictions.

“By doing that, working together, we’ll get through this very tough year.

“Then what we need to do is to all work together to get out of the financial situation and aid this recovery as quickly as possible.”

But Dr Griggs said Australia would “get a better financial, economic and human outcome if we shut down sooner rather than later”.

“I know it’s going to inconvenience people, but it’s not as much as an inconvenience as being dead,” he said.

Dr Griggs was also on the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), the key medical body advising the Federal Government on the pandemic response.

“We need to try and look after people who are affected by the shutdown,” he said.

“But the potential for this, the potential for overwhelming our health system, which will affect not just people with the COVID-19 disease, but people with other problems as well, is huge.

“I don’t see a single country, or a single leader, where they’re saying, ‘gee, we wish we’d waited a bit longer before we shut things down’.”

Your questions on coronavirus answered:

Dr Griggs’ views are similar to that of one of the members of an expert group enlisted to advise the Prime Minister.

Raina MacIntyre from the UNSW’s Biosecurity Program has also called for a comprehensive lockdown.

Thousands of doctors last week signed an open letter asking for the same thing.























First posted

March 26, 2020 08:32:51

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