Australia has flattened the curve of coronavirus transmission, but the new curve of unemployment raises another challenge for the Australian economy, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said during a press conference on Tuesday.
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Fresh economic data has revealed nearly 1 million Australians have lost their job since mid-March, with around one-in-three workers in the food and accommodation services sector out of work.
The Reserve Bank of Australia has also tipped unemployment will reach 10 per cent at its peak.
And Treasurer Josh Frydenberg revealed Treasury modelling showing that for every week the strict coronavirus restrictions remain in place, the economy haemorrhages another $4 billion.
“My view has always been this... just having a low number of cases is not success particularly when you have a lot of people out of work,” Morrison said.
“That is the curve that I'm looking to address now. We have had great success on flattening the health curve and that is great and we all wanted that but it has come at a price and we have to now start balancing that up.”
Plan to open workplaces
Speaking with Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter, Morrison said the next step is to transform Australian businesses into “Covid-19 safe” workplaces.
“It is not just being able to go back to a workplace that is safe but also about being able to do that confidently,” he said.
Porter said there are already requirements in place for employers to provide safe workplaces, but noted they will need to introduce new measures to incorporate social distancing, hygiene, personal protective equipment and cleaning rules.
These measures will be determined by the National Cabinet, but Safe Work will also have an important role to play, he added.
Safe Work Australia now has an additional 1,300 different webpages for 23 different industry sectors, after a huge 1 million Australians visited the site in April.
“Anyone, an employer or employee can go on the Safe Work Australia website and using the content filter and tailor drop-down menus, they can navigate fairly simply to get precise answers to the questions that will apply to their particular business, whether they are a manufacturer, or an abattoir, or a cafe,” Porter said.
The site now contains information on cleaning procedures, risk assessments, products, procedures and different state and territory rules.
“[Safe Work] is able now to provide a relatively consistent, detailed, head start to every business in Australia so they can thoroughly understand the best way in which they can cope with working and carrying on their business in a Covid-19 safe environment,” he said.
“It is the largest repository of information that we have available to ensure there is a consistent headstart approach to understanding how you can safely reanimate any particular business.”