Monday, 20 July 2020

Economic Stimulus Package

From this week, eligible Australians are curently receiving the second $750 Economic Stimulus Payment.

The payment will provide immediate support to lower income Australians, including pensioners, other social security and veteran income support recipients and eligible concession card holders.

More information about support being provided by the Australian Government during the coronavirus pandemic can be found at www.australia.gov.au

The Morrison Government has announced several stages of an economic plan to keep Australians in jobs, keep businesses in business and support households and the Australian economy as the world deals with the significant challenges posed by the spread of the coronavirus.

Stage Four - 30 March 2020

JOBKEEPER PAYMENT TO KEEP AUSTRALIANS IN A JOB

The Morrison Government will provide a historic wage subsidy to around 6 million workers who will receive a flat payment of $1,500 per fortnight through their employer, before tax.

The JobKeeper payment will help keep Australians in jobs as tackle the significant economic impact from the coronavirus.

The payment will be open to eligible businesses that receive a significant financial hit caused by the coronavirus.

The payment will provide the equivalent of around 70 per cent of the national median wage.

For workers in the accommodation, hospitality and retail sectors it will equate to a full median replacement wage.

The payment will ensure eligible employers and employees stay connected while some businesses move into hibernation.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the JobKeeper payment would bring the Government’s total economic support for the economy to $320 billion or 16.4 per cent of GDP.

“We will give millions of eligible businesses and their workers a lifeline to not only get through this crisis, but bounce back together on the other side,” the Prime Minister said.

“This is about keeping the connection between the employer and the employee and keeping people in their jobs even though the business they work for may go into hibernation and close down for six months.

When the economy comes back, these businesses will be able to start again and their workforce will be ready to go because they will remain attached to the business through our JobKeeper payment.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the country was about to go through one of the toughest times in its history.

“Businesses will close and people will lose their jobs. That is why we have doubled the welfare safety net,” the Treasurer said.

"However, today we are going even further. Australians know that their government has their back.

This will keep Australian workers connected with their employer and provide hope and more certainty during these difficult and challenging times."

JobKeeper Payment

The JobKeeper Payment is a subsidy to businesses, which will keep more Australians in jobs through the course of the coronavirus outbreak.

The payment will be paid to employers, for up to six months, for each eligible employee that was on their books on 1 March 2020 and is retained or continues to be engaged by that employer.

Where a business has stood down employees since 1 March, the payment will help them maintain connection with their employees.

Employers will receive a payment of $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee.

Every eligible employee must receive at least $1,500 per fortnight from this business, before tax.

The program will commence today, 30 March 2020, with the first payments to be received by eligible businesses in the first week of May as monthly arrears from the Australian Taxation Office.

Eligible businesses can begin distributing the JobKeeper payment immediately and will be reimbursed from the first week of May.

The Government will provide updates on further business cashflow support in coming days.

Eligible employers will be those with annual turnover of less than $1 billion who self-assess that have a reduction in revenue of 30 per cent or more, since 1 March 2020 over a minimum one-month period.

Employers with an annual turnover of $1 billion or more would be required to demonstrate a reduction in revenue of 50 per cent or more to be eligible.

Businesses subject to the Major Bank Levy will not be eligible.

Eligible employers include businesses structured through companies, partnerships, trusts and sole traders.

Not for profit entities, including charities, will also be eligible.

Full time and part time employees, including stood down employees, would be eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment.

Where a casual employee has been with their employer for at least the previous 12 months they will also be eligible for the Payment.

An employee will only be eligible to receive this payment from one employer.

Eligible employees include Australian residents, New Zealand citizens in Australia who hold a subclass 444 special category visa, and migrants who are eligible for JobSeeker Payment or Youth Allowance (Other).

Self-employed individuals are also eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment.

Eligible businesses can apply for the payment online and are able to register their interest via ato.gov.au

Income support partner pay income test

Over the next six months the Government is temporarily expanding access to income support payments and establishing a Coronavirus Supplement of $550 per fortnight.

JobSeeker Payment is subject to a partner income test, and today the Government is temporarily relaxing the partner income test to ensure that an eligible person can receive the JobSeeker Payment, and associated Coronavirus Supplement, providing their partner earns less than $3,068 per fortnight, around $79,762 per annum.

The personal income test for individuals on JobSeeker Payment will still apply.

Every arm of government and industry is working to keep Australians in jobs and businesses in business, and to build a bridge to recovery on the other side.

The Government will continue to do what it takes to ensure that Australia bounces back stronger.

Stage Three - 29 March 2020

$1.1 BILLION TO SUPPORT MORE MENTAL HEALTH, MEDICARE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SERVICES

More help will be given to millions of Australians battling the devastating impacts of coronavirus with a $1.1 billion package which boosts mental health services, domestic violence support, Medicare assistance for people at home and emergency food relief.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said more support would be rolling out immediately to deal with the secondary effects of the health and economic crisis caused by coronavirus.

“As we battle coronavirus on both the health and economic fronts with significant support packages in place and more to come, I am very aware many Australians are understandably anxious, stressed and fearful about the impacts of coronavirus and what it brings,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

“We are focused on saving lives and saving livelihoods and this new support package will provide much needed care and help to so many Australians facing hardship at no fault of their own.

We will get through this crisis by staying together, by supporting each other and ensuring that no Australian, even though we have to be isolated, should have to go through this alone.”

Medicare support at home – whole of population telehealth

To provide continued access to essential primary health services during the coronavirus pandemic, $669 million will be provided to expand Medicare-subsidised telehealth services for all Australians, with extra incentives to GPs and other health practitioners also delivered.

Australians will be able to access support in their own home using their telephone, or video conferencing features like FaceTime to connect with GP services, mental health treatment, chronic disease management, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health assessments, services to people with eating disorders, pregnancy support counselling, services to patients in aged care facilities, children with autism, after-hours consultations and nurse practitioners.

Providing the opportunity to get health services at home is a key weapon in the fight against coronavirus while limiting unnecessary exposure of patients and health professionals to the virus, wherever treatment can be safely delivered by phone or videoconferencing.

This will take pressure off hospitals and emergency departments and allow people to access essential health services in their home, while supporting self-isolation and quarantine policies.

The GP bulk billing incentive will be doubled for GPs and an incentive payment will be established to ensure practices stay open to provide face to face services where they are essential for patients with conditions that can’t be treated through telehealth.

The new arrangements will be in place until 30 September 2020, when they will be reviewed in light of the need to continue the fight against coronavirus.

Domestic violence support

An initial $150 million will be provided to support Australians experiencing domestic, family and sexual violence due to the fallout from coronavirus.

Google is seeing the highest magnitude of searches for domestic violence help that they have seen in the past five years with an increase of 75 per cent and some services are already reporting an increase in demand.

The funding will boost programs under the National Plan to reduce Violence against Women and their Children including:• Counselling support for families affected by, or at risk of experiencing, domestic and family violence including men’s behaviour change programs which will provide a short, medium and longer term response to support men.

• 1800RESPECT, the national domestic, family and sexual violence counselling service, which already answers around 160,000 calls a year.

• Mensline Australia, the national counselling service for men that provides support for emotional health and relationship concerns for men affected by or considering using violence.

• Trafficked People Program to support particularly vulnerable cohorts such as victims of human trafficking, forced marriage, slavery and slavery-like practices.

• Support programs for women and children experiencing violence to protect themselves to stay in their homes, or a home of their choice, when it is safe to do so.

A new public communication campaign will roll out to support those experiencing domestic violence over this period and to ensure those affected know where they can seek help.

Minister Payne and Minister Ruston will convene a COAG Women’s Safety Council meeting on Monday to discuss with the states and territories how to best deliver this funding to support local responses to this issue.

Mental health support

An initial $74 million will be provided to support the mental health and wellbeing of all Australians.

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 during the coronavirus pandemic and in self-isolation, how to support children and loved ones, and how to access further mental health services and care.

A new national communications campaign, delivered in conjunction with the National Mental Health Commission, will provide information about maintaining mental wellbeing, raise awareness of the signs of when you or a loved one needs to get additional assistance, and where to find further information, support and care.

$10 million will be provided to create a dedicated coronavirus wellbeing support line, delivered by Beyond Blue, to help people experiencing concern due to a coronavirus diagnosis, or experiencing stress or anxiety due to employment changes, business closure, financial difficulties, family pressures or other challenges.

The Government welcomes an additional $5 million contribution from Medibank to Beyond Blue to support this vital initiative.

$14 million will bolster the capacity of mental health support providers who have experienced an unprecedented surge in call volumes with funding increasing their capacity, including $5 million for Lifeline and $2 million for Kids Helpline.

The funding will also bolster other existing services, including digital peer-support to people with urgent, severe and complex mental illness who may be experiencing additional distress at this time.

Health workers, who will be at the frontline of the pandemic, will get dedicated mental health support through digital platforms developed to provide advice, social support, assistance in managing stress and anxiety, and more in-depth treatment without having to attend in-person sessions.

To ensure that older Australians in aged care are not socially isolated despite visiting restrictions, $10 million will be provided to the Community Visitors Scheme.

The funding will mean extra staff to train volunteer visitors, who will connect with older people in aged care online and by phone, and assist older Australians keep in touch with the community and loved ones.

To help younger Australians stay on track in their education and training and prepare them for the workforce, $6.75 million will be provided to deliver the headspace digital work and study service and eheadspace.

Mentors and headspace vocational specialists working in an integrated team will offer technical and life skills, providing a comprehensive digital support service for all young Australians during the COVID-19 pandemic and after.

For Indigenous Australians, whose elders and communities are particularly vulnerable to the impacts coronavirus, Gayaa Dhuwi (Proud Spirit) Australia will develop culturally appropriate mental health and wellbeing resources.

These will be available and easily accessible across a range of platforms, including print, podcast, NITV, Indigenous print media and internet/social media platforms.

$28.3 million will be utilised to continue to deliver psychosocial support to Commonwealth community mental health clients for a further 12 months.

This will allow additional time for people with severe and complex mental illness to complete their applications and testing for support under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Relief services for vulnerable Australians An additional $200 million will be provided to support charities and other community organisations which provide emergency and food relief as demand surges as a result of coronavirus.

Given the unprecedented nature of the situation, emergency relief services are being heavily relied upon and this demand will increase.

Community Support

The Community Support Package will provide flexible funding to boost support to services where demand is quickly increasing, including:

• Emergency Relief which will help vulnerable Australians who need assistance with bills, food, clothing or petrol and increase and retain workforce capacity including volunteers.

• Assistance for food relief organisations to source additional food and transport for emergency relief service providers, and rebuild workforce capacity.

• Immediately scale-up services through the National Debt Helpline — which is often the first point of contact for people experiencing financial difficulties, and to support one-on-one tele-financial counselling.

• Creating a short-form Financial Counselling course through Financial Counselling Australia to train new financial counsellors to boost the workforce, potentially providing hundreds of new jobs.

• Expanding access to safe, affordable financial products through the No Interest Loan Scheme which provides an immediate financial relief alternative to other high-risk, high-interest products such as credit cards and payday loans.

Stage Two - 23 March 2020

The Morrison Government has today released the second stage of its economic plan to cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus and help build a bridge to recovery.

A total of $189 billion is being injected into the economy by all arms of Government in order to keep Australians in work and businesses in business.

This includes $17.6 billion for the Government’s first economic stimulus package, $90 billion from the RBA and $15 billion from the Government to deliver easier access to finance, and $66.1 billion in today’s economic support package.

Our economic support package includes:

Support for households including casuals, sole-traders, retirees and those on income support Assistance for businesses to keep people in a job Regulatory protection and financial support for businesses to stay in business

The Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Government was acting to cushion the blow from the coronavirus for businesses and households to help them get through to the other side of the crisis.

“We want to help businesses keep going as best they can and for as long as they can, or to pause instead of winding up their business. We want to ensure that when this crisis has passed Australian businesses can bounce back,” the Prime Minister said.

“Our focus is on cushioning the blow and providing hope to every Australian that we will get through this and come out the other side together.

“We know this will be temporary. That’s why all our actions are geared towards building a bridge, keeping more people in work, enhancing the safety net for those that aren’t and keeping businesses alive so they can get to the other side and stand up their workforce as quickly as possible.

“We know Australia’s more than 3 million small and medium businesses are the engine room of our economy. When they hurt, we all hurt.

“The next few months are going to be a difficult journey but we all have a role to play to adapt to the changes we’re facing, to cushion the impact of what is happening and to pull together so we can bounce back when we get to the other side.”

The Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the $189 billion economic support package was the equivalent of 9.7 per cent of GDP.

“The Government is taking unprecedented action to strengthen the safety net available to Australians that are stood down or lose their jobs and increasing support for small businesses that do it tough over the next six months.

“These measures build significantly on what we have already announced.

“These extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures.”

“This action will directly benefit our local community; supporting residents, workers, and small and medium businesses to bounce back”.

Support for workers and households

Coronavirus supplement

The Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight. This will be paid to both existing and new recipients of the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit.

The Coronavirus supplement will be paid for the next 6 months. Eligible income support recipients will receive the full amount of the $550 Coronavirus supplement on top of their payment each fortnight.

This measure is estimated to cost $14.1 billion over the forward estimates period.

An increase of up to 5,000 staff for Services Australia will assist to support delivery of new Government measures.

Payments to support households

In addition to the $750 stimulus payment announced on 12 March 2020, the Government will provide a further $750 payment to social security and veteran income support recipients and eligible concession card holders, except for those who are receiving an income support payment that is eligible to receive the Coronavirus supplement.

This second payment will be made automatically from 13 July 2020 to around 5 million social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders. Around half of those that benefit are pensioners.The first payment will be made from 31 March 2020 to people who will have been on one of the eligible payments any time between 12 March 2020 and 13 April 2020.

This measure is estimated to cost $4 billion over the forward estimates period.

Early release of superannuation

The Government will allow individuals in financial stress as a result of the Coronavirus to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21.

Eligible individuals will be able to apply online through myGov for access of up to $10,000 of their superannuation before 1 July 2020. They will also be able to access up to a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 for another three months. They will not need to pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.

This measure is estimated to cost $1.2 billion over the forward estimates period.

Temporarily reduce superannuation minimum drawdown rates

The Government is temporarily reducing superannuation minimum drawdown requirements for account based pensions and similar products by 50 per cent for 2019-20 and 2020-21. This measure will benefit retirees by providing them with more flexibility as to how they manage their superannuation assets.

Reducing social security deeming rates

On top of the deeming rate changes made at the time of the first package, the Government is reducing the deeming rates by a further 0.25 percentage points to reflect the latest rate reductions by the RBA.

As of 1 May 2020, the lower deeming rate will be 0.25 per cent and the upper deeming rate will be 2.25 per cent.

The change will benefit around 900,000 income support recipients, including Age Pensioners.

This measure is estimated to cost $876 million over the forward estimates period.

Assistance to business to keep people in a job

Boosting Cash Flow for Employers

The Government is providing up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium sized businesses, and not‑for-profits (including charities) that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000. These payments will help businesses’ and not-for-profits’ cash flow so they can keep operating, pay their rent, electricity and other bills and retain staff.

Under the enhanced scheme from the first package, employers will receive a payment equal to 100 per cent of their salary and wages withheld (up from 50 per cent), with the maximum payment being increased from $25,000 to $50,000. In addition, the minimum payment is being increased from $2,000 to $10,000. The payment will be available from 28 April 2020.

By linking the payments to business to staff wage tax withholdings, businesses will be incentivised to hold on to more of their workers.

The payments are tax free, there will be no new forms and payments will flow automatically through the ATO.

This measure will benefit around 690,000 businesses employing around 7.8 million people, and around 30,000 NFPs (including charities).

Small and medium business entities with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers are eligible. NFPs entities, including charities, with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers will now also be eligible. This will support employment at a time where NFPs are facing increasing demand for services.

An additional payment is also being made from 28 July 2020. Eligible entities will receive an additional payment equal to the total of all of the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers payments received.

This measure is estimated to cost $31.9 billion over the forward estimates period, including the value of the measure announced in the first package.

Regulatory protection and financial support for businesses to stay in business

Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme

The Government will establish the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme which will support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to get access to working capital to help them get them through the impact of the coronavirus.

Under the Scheme, the Government will guarantee 50 per cent of new loans issued by eligible lenders to SMEs.

The Government’s support will enhance lenders’ willingness and ability to provide credit to SMEs with the Scheme able to support $40 billion of lending to SMEs.

The Scheme will complement the announcement the Government has made to cut red-tape to allow SMEs to get access to credit faster. It also complements announcements made by Australian banks to support small businesses with their existing loans.

This builds on the investment the Government is making to enable smaller lenders to continue supporting Australian consumers and small businesses, through providing the AOFM an investment capacity of $15 billion to invest in wholesale funding markets used by small authorised deposit-taking institutions (ADI) and non-ADI lenders.

It further supports the Reserve Bank of Australia’s announcement of a $90 billion term funding facility for ns ADIs, that will reduce the cost of lending, with particular incentives to lend to small and medium enterprises.

The measures the Government is announcing today, along with the previous announcements, will deliver a total of $125 billion to support Australians get through the impact of the coronavirus.

The Government will guarantee up to $20 billion to support $40 billion in SME loans.

Providing temporary relief for financially distressed businesses

The Government is temporarily increasing the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive. The package also includes temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent. The Corporations Act 2001 will be amended to provide temporary and targeted relief for companies to deal with unforeseen events that arise as a result of the Coronavirus.

This builds on the support for business and business investment provided in our first economic support package, which included: increasing the instant asset write off backing business investment by providing accelerated depreciation deductions supporting apprentices and trainees targeted support for Coronavirus-affected regions and communities

Support for the aviation industry

As previously announced, the Government is also providing up to $715 million in support for Australian airlines and airports, which will ensure that our aviation sector receives timely cash flow support through an unprecedented period of disruption to international and domestic air travel.

While these are challenging times, Australians can rest assured that the Commonwealth Government will do all that is necessary to support them and build a bridge to ensure that all Australians can get to the other side of this crisis.

Stage One - 13 March 2020

Our targeted stimulus package is focused on keeping Australians in jobs and helping small and medium sized businesses to stay in business.The package has four parts:

Supporting business investment Providing cash flow assistance to help small and medium sized business to stay in business and keep their employees in jobs Targeted support for the most severely affected sectors, regions and communities; Household stimulus payments that will benefit the wider economy

The measures are all temporary, targeted and proportionate to the challenge we face.

Our actions will ensure we respond to the immediate challenges we face and help Australia bounce back stronger on the other side, without undermining the structural integrity of the Budget.

For further information on the package visit https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus

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