Government’s $66 billion coronavirus stimulus to provide relief for small business, casuals and welfare recipients

The Federal Government has unveiled a $66 billion stimulus package to fight the coronavirus pandemic’s economic effects.

Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, March 19, 2020. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg Source: AAP

The Morrison Government has announced a series of measures to help casual workers, sole traders, retirees and those on income support as part of its second $66 billion stimulus package in the face of the coronavirus.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said since announcing the first $17.6 billion package 10 days ago the global and domestic economic environment has deteriorated.

"We now expect the economic shock to be deeper, wider and longer," Mr Frydenberg told reporters in Canberra on Sunday.


Jobseeker allowance effectively doubled

The new measures include a new, time-limited coronavirus supplement to paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight to both existing and new recipients of the JobSeeker Payment (formerly known as Newstart), Youth Allowance jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit.

It will apply to existing and new recipients and will be paid in addition to existing jobseeker allowance for the next six months at a cost of $14.1 billion.

"This means, anyone eligible for the maximum jobseeker payment will now receive more than $1100 a fortnight, effectively doubling the jobseeker allowance," Mr Frydenberg said. 

The government will waive the asset test and waiting period to allow those out of work to access support sooner. 

In addition to the $750 stimulus payment announced on 12 March, the government says it will provide a further $750 payment to social security and veteran income support recipients and eligible concession card holders.

Boosts for small businesses

Small businesses will receive a tax-free, cash payment of up to $100,000 to keep employing staff.

The minimum payment for eligible businesses will be $20,000.

The amount will be paid in the form of a full rebate on income tax withholdings, with the government hopeful it will benefit 690,000 businesses and 7.8 million workers.

About 30,000 not-for-profit organisations will also be eligible, the government said.

Mr Frydenberg said the changes would give small businesses "a chance to get to the other side".

Superannuation changes

People in financial stress as a result of COVID-19 will be able to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in the 2019-20 financial year and a further $10,000 in 2020-21.

"These withdrawals will be tax-free and available to those who are eligible for the coronavirus supplement as well as sole traders who have seen their hours work, or income fall, 20 per cent or more as a result of the coronavirus," Mr Frydenberg said.

There will also be a temporary reduction in the superannuation minimum drawdown requirements by 50 per cent for 2019/20 and 2020/21.

It will provide retirees with more flexibility as to how they manage their superannuation assets, the government said. 

Additional reporting by Evan Young.

3 min read
Published 22 March 2020 at 11:39am