Australia passes ‘most significant’ economic support package to ease COVID-19 tension

CANBERRA (Xinhua) – Australia’s Parliament has voted to pass about AUD84 billion (about USD49 billion) in economic stimulus measures on Monday in response to the outbreak of coronavirus.

“The measures that have been passed by the Parliament today represent the most significant support for the Australian economy and community since the war,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

A bare minimum number of Members of Parliament (MPs) and Senators convened in Canberra for a single day on Monday to vote on the government’s stimulus packages before the Parliament was suspended until August. In a late-night session, the Opposition Labor Party joined forces with the governing Coalition to pass the two packages, which are worth AUD17.6 billion (USD10.2 billion) and USD66 billion (USD38.5 billion) respectively.

They also agreed to set aside an extra USD40 billion (USD23.3 billion) for urgent unforeseen spending associated with the pandemic.

“There is much to do for this country in the weeks and months ahead, but working together, we can support the Australian community at their moment of need,” said Frydenberg.

“We know that the economic situation has deteriorated, as every day passes. And we know that the economic shock from the coronavirus and its impact will be deeper, will be wider and will be longer than first thought.

“But tonight, the Australian Parliament has acted in the best interests of the casuals and the sole traders and the retirees and those on income support and the Australian students.”

Under the stimulus measures, eligible small and medium sized businesses, and not-for-profits (including charities) that employ people, will receive payments of up to AUD100,000 (USD58,385) in an attempt to prevent losses.

Addressing the House of Representatives, the Lower House of Parliament, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday morning that “for many, young and old, 2020 will be the toughest year of our lives,” invoking the spirit of Australians who fought in World War II.