• A nurse takes a sample at a drive-in coronavirus testing station in Adelaide (AAP)
A wrap of the first two days leading into widespread 'shutdowns' around Australia, as federal, state and territory governments contend with the coronavirus's impact on health and the economy, while the nation's public is urged to self-isolate.
By
Bernadette Clarke

Source:
NITV News
24 Mar 2020 - 9:13 PM  UPDATED 24 Mar 2020 - 9:14 PM

The Federal Government passed two packages worth $17.6 billion and $66 billion on Monday night to support businesses and workers affected by the COVID19 pandemic.

They included a coronavirus supplement of $550 per fortnight to be paid to both existing and new recipients of the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit.

There will also be two $750 payments for welfare recipients, including social security and veteran income support recipients and eligible concession card holders.

In addition, individuals in financial stress as a result of the Coronavirus are now able to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation.

After pressure from the Labor and Greens parties, the Morrison government made the last-minute decision to include full-time students on ABSTUDY, AUSTUDY and Youth Allowance for the $550 per fortnight boost in benefits.   

Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Linda Burney, said the amendment will benefit almost 50,000 Indigenous Australians who would not have otherwise received the payment. 

Ms Burney also said hundreds of thousands of Indigenous Australians would receive either the one-off stimulus payments, or the Coronavirus Supplement. 

However, Centrelink lines and crowds remain a major issue across the nation when the need for social distancing is paramount.

Ms Burney said that Centrelink services need to be managed more efficiently.

“What is critical moving forward is that those in need of Centrelink are able to access it in a timely way," she said.

“People’s financial circumstances are changing very quickly, and many will be urgently in need of assistance.

“Centrelink, under this government, was broken long before COVID-19 – the result of its job cuts and outsourcing.

“It needs to do everything in its power to streamline its processes to ensure help gets to where it needs to be as soon as possible.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg hinted at the potential need for a third stimulus package down the track, as Australia faces its biggest challenge outside of war time.

"We confront an enemy without a flag or a face and we are deploying every weapon in our arsenal to defeat it," he told parliament.

"We will bounce back as a nation stronger than ever."

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