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Coronavirus: The plans to save Australians from financial hardship

Coronavirus: The plans to save Australians from financial hardship

A larger economic “safety net”, including mortgage and income guarantee schemes, is being considered as calls mounted for the Coalition government to safeguard businesses and households from financial hardship amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking at his press conference on Wednesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggests a second round of economic stimulus in the form of a multibillion-dollar “safety net” package is in the works.

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews later told reporters the federal government is considering guaranteeing mortgages, income and employment as well as “underwriting mortgages, potentially”.

“We have many businesses who have zero income. Offering them a tax cut doesn’t necessarily do it,” Andrews said.

“If we are going to have some businesses close their doors, if we want to avoid them collapsing altogether and if we want to make sure they are there at the end of this virus, we need to be providing that sort of emergency capital, that sort of emergency cash. We are doing some work, we will have more to say about that.”

The upcoming stimulus follows the $17.6 billion stimulus package launched last week in response to the pandemic.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) is also tipped to announce an emergency rate cut on Thursday amid its contingency planning to offer billions of dollars in cheap long-term loans to commercial banks.

Business groups and economists have urged the government to establish more measures to assist firms and workers amid pressure from social distancing measures.

Businessman Tony Shepherd said employees should have their compulsory superannuation payments added into their pay packages for the next six months.

“Employers pay compulsory superannuation. Why not freeze that for six months and give that money to wage earners so they get an instant pay increase?” he told The Daily Telegraph.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry called on the government to provide Newstart-sized payments to businesses with a “material reduction in revenue either directly or indirectly attributable to COVID-19” to keep their workers employed.

The Australian Industry Group said the government should improve access to income support by waiving waiting periods and assets and income tests for workers who have their hours reduced or lose their jobs.