Australia passes ‘most significant’ economic support package

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Canberra: The Federal Parliament on Tuesday voted to pass the “most significant” economic support package worth A$84 billion ($49 billion) in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The measures that have been passed by Parliament represent the most significant support for the Australian economy and community since the war,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

A bare minimum number of MPs and Senators convened in Canberra for a single day on Monday to vote on the government’s stimulus packages before Parliament was suspended until August.

In the overnight session, the Opposition Labor Party joined forces with the governing Coalition to pass the two packages, which are worth A$17.6 billion and A$66 billion

They also agreed to set aside an extra A$40 billion dollars for urgent unforeseen spending regarding the pandemic.

“There is much to do for this country in the weeks and months ahead, but working together, we can support the Australian community at their moment of need,” said Frydenberg.

“We know that the economic situation has deteriorated, as every day passes. And we know that the economic shock from the coronavirus and its impact will be deeper, will be wider and will be longer than first thought.

“The Australian Parliament has acted in the best interests of the casuals and the sole traders and the retirees and those on income support and the Australian students.”

Under the stimulus measures, eligible small and medium sized businesses, and not-for-profits (including charities) that employ people, will receive payments of up to A$100,000 in an attempt to prevent losses.

Earlier on monday while addressing the House of Representatives, the lower house of Parliament, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that “for many, young and old, 2020 will be the toughest year of our lives”, invoking the spirit of Australians who fought in World War II.

“So we summon the spirit of the Anzacs, of our Great Depression generation, of those who built the Snowy. Of those who won the great peace of the Second World War and defended Australia,” he said.

“That is our legacy that we draw on at this time. We also know the actions that we can take. The care, compassion and respect we must show from one, to one another. While some must self-isolate, and they must, and we all must keep a healthy distance between us.

“In the months ahead, we will face more issues that none of us now, can imagine.”

Parliament will not reconvene until August 11 in order to prevent the spread of the virus among politicians.

The federal budget for financial year 2020/21, which Frydenberg was due to deliver in May, has been postponed until October 6.

Australia has so far reported 1,682 confirmed cases, with seven fatalities.

(Agencies)