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Australia extends support amid COVID-19 outbreak

Video Credit: Reuters - Politics - Duration: 02:00s - Published
Australia extends support amid COVID-19 outbreak

Australia extends support amid COVID-19 outbreak

The Australian government announced on Tuesday it will spend A$16.8 billion to extend its wage subsidies for businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Libby Hogan reports.

Australia will spend nearly $12 billion U.S. dollars to extend support for jobs by another six months helping to prop up businesses hit by the global health crisis.

In an annoucement on Tuesday (July 21), leader Scott Morrison warned the support payments would continue, but be scaled down: "So our plan for those who aren't in a job is to help them get into a job or train them for a job.

Our plan for those who are on JobKeeper in a business that is still eligible for that, is to maintain that support." The reduced payments for fulltime workers will be just over $1,000 dollars, a fortnight.

The program began in March, and covers all workers, including those who worked casual shifts.

It's said to have helped three and a half million Australians, as social distancing restrictions paralyzed businesses.

But Morrison's conservative government continues to try and wean the economy of fiscal support and in the background of his announcement, unemployment benefits will be trimmed -- by more than 50 percent -- that's despite an earlier pledge that payments would increase and continue until the end of September.

It comes as a surge in new coronavirus cases in the country's southeast threatens to keep the economy in recession.

In Australia's second-most populous state Victoria -- It's capital Melbourne remains in partial lockdown -- authorities reported a significant rise from the day before, with nearly 400 new cases on Tuesday(July 21).

And on Tuesday Victorian health chief, Brett Sutton, offered some grim optimism: "if we had been on an exponential curve which is what happens with coronavirus, we would have been at thousands of cases at this point in time.

And we're not, we're at 374.

I'm not satisfied with that but it is much better than three thousand." The figures dent hopes Victoria will see a slowdown in cases, two weeks after nearly 5 million Australians were told to stay home.




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