The Australian Government provides a daily update on its website of the latest developments of COVID-19.
Across the world, there have been more than 117,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 4,200 reported deaths. As of 11 March 2020, there were 112 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus), including 3 deaths in Australia.
On 12 March, the Australian Government announced an economic response totalling $17.6 billion across the forward estimates to protect the economy by maintaining confidence, supporting investment and keeping people in jobs. Additional household income and business support will flow through to strengthen the wider economy.
The Government’s economic response targets four key areas:
· Delivering support for business investment
· Cash flow assistance for employers
· Stimulus payments to households to support growth
· Assistance for severely affected regions
The Government has committed an additional $2.4 billion to support our health system to manage any further outbreak in Australia.
In addition, the Government has also committed to cover 50 per cent of additional hospital costs incurred by states and territories related to the diagnosis and treatment of patients with, or suspected of having, the Coronavirus.
1. Delivering support for business investment
The two business investment measures in this package are designed to assist Australian businesses and economic growth in the short term, and encourage a stronger economic recovery following the Coronavirus outbreak.
· Increasing the instant asset write-off
The Government is increasing the instant asset write-off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 and expanding access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million) from 13 March 2020 until 30 June 2020.
· Backing business investment
The Government is introducing a time limited 15 month investment incentive (through to 30 June 2021) to support business investment and economic growth over the short term, by accelerating depreciation deductions. Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct 50 per cent of the cost of an eligible asset on installation, with existing depreciation rules applying to the balance of the asset’s cost.
2. Cash flow assistance for businesses
This assistance will support businesses to manage cash flow challenges resulting from the economic impacts of the Coronavirus and help businesses retain their employees. These two measures are designed to support employing small and medium enterprises and to improve business confidence.
· Boosting cash flow for employers
The Boosting Cash Flow for Employers measure will provide up to $25,000 back to small and medium-sized businesses, with a minimum payment of $2,000 for eligible businesses. The payment will provide cash flow support to businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million that employ staff. The payment will be tax free.
· Supporting apprentices and trainees
The Government is supporting small business to retain their apprentices and trainees. Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for up to 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. Where a small business is not able to retain an apprentice, the subsidy will be available to a new employer that employs that apprentice.
3. Stimulus payments to households to support growth
This measure will assist around 6.5 million lower income Australians, which will support confidence and domestic demand in the economy.
· Stimulus payments
The Government will provide a one-off $750 payment to social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders. There will be one payment per eligible recipient. The payment will be tax free and will not count as income for Social Security, Farm Household Allowance and Veteran payments.
4. Assistance for severely affected regions
This measure provides $1 billion to support regions most significantly affected by the Coronavirus outbreak.
· Support for Coronavirus-affected regions and communities
The Government has set aside $1 billion to support those regions and communities that have been disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of the Coronavirus, including those heavily reliant on industries such as tourism, agriculture and education.
This will include the waiver of fees and charges for tourism businesses that operate in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the waiver of entry fees for Commonwealth National Parks. It will also include additional assistance to help businesses identify alternative export markets or supply chains. Targeted measures will also be developed to further promote domestic tourism. The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is also providing administrative relief for some tax obligations for people affected by the Coronavirus outbreak, on a case-by-case basis.
A package of Bills will be introduced into Parliament in the final Autumn sitting week in March 2020 for Parliament’s urgent consideration and passage. Following passage of the Bills through Parliament, the Government will then move to immediately make, and register, any supporting instruments For more information on the Australian Government’s Economic Response to Coronavirus visit https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus .
The Queensland Government has opened applications for a $500,000 industry grants package to support Queensland agribusiness exporters directly affected by COVID-19. The new Market Diversification and Resilience Grants Program is part of the Queensland Government’s $27.25 million coronavirus industry recovery package. Priority will be given to those businesses directly impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. Grants will be available to support agriculture, food and fishing exporters, their critical supply chain partners and industry organisations to build resilience by diversifying into new markets.
They can be used to assist with purchasing new equipment including refrigerators, freezers or filleting machines and for larger projects such as market evaluation studies, market visits and staff training.
The grants are in addition to support and assistance already put in place to support directly-impacted fisheries businesses, especially the live coral trout and tropical rock lobster fisheries.
The first round funding for the new Market Diversification and Resilience Grants Program opened today (Thursday March 12) and applications close on Monday April 20.
Mr Furner said applicants seeking funding for new equipment up to the value of $10,000 will have their applications assessed as soon as they apply. Applicants businesses must contribute 25 per cent of total equipment costs.
The project-based grants will provide funding of up to $50,000. Applicants must co-invest at least 50 per cent of total project funds and successful applicants will be notified by 1 May 2020.