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Morrison Government To Pay Australians $750 In Multi-Billion Dollar Coronavirus Stimulus Package

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a massive stimulus package intended to keep small businesses open and Australians in jobs as the coronavirus crisis wreaks havoc on the economy.

What you need to know
  • Scott Morrison has announced a $22.9 billion stimulus package to help economy
  • Australians eligible for government payments will receive $750 one-off payment
  • Small and medium-sized businesses can apply for grants of up to $25,000
  • Australia has 120 confirmed cases of coronavirus, WHO has declared global pandemic

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Morrison said the spread of coronavirus was a health crisis, "but a health crisis with very significant economic impacts".

He will spend billions of dollars on a stimulus package which will be released over this and next financial year, with a focus on keeping Australians employed and businesses open.

"This plan is about keeping Australians in jobs," he said.

"This plan is about keeping a business in business, particularly small and medium-sized businesses, and this plan is about ensuring the Australian economy bounces back stronger on the other side of this and, with that, the Budget bounces back with it."

The package will give grants for up to $25,000 to small and medium-sized businesses, and wage assistance payments available over the next nine months for those who employ apprentices.

Households eligible for a benefit payment will receive a stimulus bonus of $750, including pensioners and those eligible for family tax benefits.

A total of 6.5 million Australians will qualify for the payment.

"This includes recipients on Newstart, the disability support pension, carers' allowance, youth allowance, veterans support payments, family tax benefits, the Commonwealth senior health card-holders and 2.4 million aged pensioners," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

The one-off, tax-free payment will cost Australia $4.8 billion and will be paid out from March 31.

Casual workers will be another beneficiary of the fund, with the government pledging to provide immediate access to a sickness payment if they need to self-isolate.

Previously, those applying could have been subject to a waiting period of up to a few weeks.

Morrison also announced a coronavirus regional and community fund, to help support those in remote areas and others who are reliant on industries that will be more affected by the spread of the virus, such as tourism or export.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann earlier confirmed this year's budget won't be in surplus. He also admitted the business payments come with no strings attached but urged owners to use the handouts wisely.

"We say to all of those businesses: 'We're doing our bit to support you, we want you to support your staff during this period'," he told ABC radio.

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Economists predict Australia could fall into recession, but it won't be known until at least two consecutive quarters of economic data show negative growth.

The March and June quarter numbers compiled by the Australian Bureau of Statistics won't be released until later this year.

Frydenberg said on Thursday Australia's "disciplined and careful economic management" had given Australia the "fiscal flexibility and financial firepower" to respond to the negative effects coronavirus was having on the economy.

"This package of measures is both substantial and considered and it ensures that Australia stays ahead of this global challenge as it continues to unfold," he said.

The nation now has more than 120 confirmed cases of coronavirus and the World Health Organisation has warned more infections and deaths are inevitable without urgent, aggressive action.

There were 12 new cases of coronavirus confirmed in NSW overnight, taking the total number to 77.

Four of those 12 were not people who had recently travelled overseas, leaving questions about how they became infected.

NSW Chief Medical Officer Kerry Chant has told anyone who is sick, regardless of recent overseas travel, to stay at home and away from any large gatherings.

"The best thing you can do is stay at home if you're unwell. Don't push through, don't go to workplaces, don't go and visit loved ones in aged care facilities, don't go and visit loved ones in hospital, and don't go to public events where you're going to be cheek and jowl," she said.

While speaking to reporters on Thursday, Morrison said he would be attending a football game over the weekend, and urged others to join him -- unless they were unwell.

The Prime Minister will address the nation at 7 pm Thursday night about the next steps in dealing with the coronavirus crisis.

THE $23B FEDERAL CORONAVIRUS STIMULUS PLAN

HELP FOR PENSIONERS AND WELFARE RECIPIENTS

* Deeming rate cut by 50 basis points, with an average benefit of $219 a year

* A $750 one-off, tax-free payment from March 31 for about 6.5 million people.

FOR CASUAL WORKERS

* Immediate access to the sickness payment if they need to self-isolate.

TO HELP TOURISM AND TRADE

* A $1 billion fund for communities hurt by coronavirus flow-on effects

* The ATO will open a shopfront in Cairns help small business

FOR BUSINESS

* About $6.7 billion over four years for individual $25,000 tax-free payments for businesses turning over up to $50 million a year

* The minimum payment for business will be $2000

* The amount will be 50 per cent of tax withheld to the ATO on employees' wages

* The government hopes it will benefit 700,000 businesses and 7.8 million workers

* From Friday to July 1, the instant asset write-off for businesses will rise from $30,000 to $150,000

* It will be expanded to businesses with an annual turnover of up to $500 million instead of $50 million, at a cost to the federal budget of $700 million

* $3.2 billion for businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million to deduct an extra 50 per cent of asset costs in depreciation

* It's expected to help 3.5 million businesses

TO KEEP APPRENTICES EMPLOYED

* Small businesses with fewer than 20 employees will get up to $7000 each quarter for apprentices as a wage subsidy

* Employers will get a wage subsidy equal to 50 per cent of the apprentice or trainee's wage from January 1 to September 30

* Apprentices must have been with a small business as at March 1

* The total cost is expected to be $1.3 billion over two years.

WITH AAP.