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Cash splash: One-off $500 payments for millions

Pictured: Hand holding Australian cash, busy Australian shopping strip suggesting coronavirus cash splash. Image: Getty
Millions of Australians could receive $500 in cash. Images: Getty

UPDATE Thursday 12 March: Australian households will receive $750 cash payments as part of the government’s $17.6 billion stimulus package. Here are the full details.

Wednesday 11 March: Australia’s pensioners and Newstart recipients could be in for a $500 boost under the government’s stimulus package, due to be announced Thursday.

The rumours come amid concerns coronavirus, or Covid-19, will cripple Australia’s economy and potentially send the nation into a recession as it shuts down travel and education sectors and hamstrings retail, hospitality and events sectors.

According to Sky News, the government will provide one-off $500 payments to Australia’s 4.6 million pensioners and around 722,000 Newstart recipients.

However Prime Minister Scott Morrison has stopped short of declaring the rumoured handout will occur.

Responding to questioning on Wednesday morning, Morrison said he will “have more to say about that tomorrow... that’s when we’ll announce those measures”.

“We're still finalising some of those measures after what was a very lengthy meeting yesterday.”

As Covid-19 spreads worldwide and shuts down entire nations, the Australian National University (ANU) has predicted the global economic fallout will range between a $3.7 trillion loss to GDP and up to $12.8 trillion.

Australia alone may see an estimated loss of $158 billion, in the ANU researchers’ worst-case scenario.

Morrison called on employers to band together and protect workers during a speech earlier this week.

He said the stimulus package has one goal: to protect the health and livelihoods of Australians and to “bounce back stronger” once the crisis has ended.

“By following these principles we believe we will protect the structural integrity of the budget; we will maximise the impact of the measures to protect the livelihoods of Australians and our economy during this difficult period,” he said.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks in Sydney, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020, at a state memorial service for the victims of recent wildfires. (Peter Parks/Pool Photo via AP)
Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Image: AP

“And in doing so will prevent the need for governments to spend the better part of a decade, restoring the fiscal position, and even longer paying back to the day when the economy bounces back.”

The government has previously suggested the package would not include cash hand-outs, instead saying the stimulus would focus on pumping money into businesses and investments.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Morrison has also previously blasted former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s $900 cash handout during the global financial crisis.

“There is a lot of learning from what happened last time and it is important that as the business sector bounces back, as it will on the other side of this, this is why this health crisis with economic, significant economic implications, is different from a global financial crisis,” Morrison said.

“If you don’t work to get the details of a package like this right, then it can have very serious implications, both economically and more broadly, and frankly, we saw that last time, and we don’t intend to repeat those mistakes.”

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