DEEP FREEZE

Closed busi­nesses to re­ceive a virus life­line

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - Front Page - CLARE ARM­STRONG & ANNA CALD­WELL

BUSI­NESSES forced to tem­po­rar­ily shut their doors will be pro­tected from to­tal col­lapse so they can bounce back and kick­start the econ­omy when the coro­n­avirus cri­sis passes.

A po­ten­tial freeze on some taxes, rent and debt obli­ga­tions would en­able com­pa­nies to hit pause un­til demand for their goods and ser­vices re­turned, which would help Aus­tralia to re­cover faster.

The fed­eral govern­ment is al­ready look­ing at the next round of eco­nomic mea­sures to help busi­nesses, af­ter un­veil­ing more than $189 bil­lion in spend­ing so far. It is un­der­stood Trea­sury is also look­ing at pos­si­ble flat rate wage sub­si­dies and ways to re­duce rent stress.

BUSI­NESSES forced to tem­po­rar­ily shut their doors will be pro­tected from to­tal col­lapse so they can bounce back and kick­start the econ­omy when the coro­n­avirus cri­sis passes.

A po­ten­tial freeze on some taxes, rent and debt obli­ga­tions would en­able com­pa­nies to hit pause un­til demand for their goods and ser­vices re­turned, which would help Aus­tralia to re­cover faster.

The fed­eral govern­ment is al­ready look­ing at the next round of eco­nomic mea­sures to help busi­nesses, af­ter un­veil­ing more than $189 bil­lion in spend­ing so far.

It is un­der­stood Trea­sury is also look­ing at pos­si­ble wage sub­si­dies paid at a flat rate, not the 80 per cent mech­a­nism be­ing de­ployed in the UK.

States and ter­ri­to­ries have been con­sid­er­ing mea­sures to re­duce rent stress for both com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial tenants, with a freeze on cer­tain obli­ga­tions a likely op­tion. The rad­i­cal eco­nomic life­line plans are to be dis­cussed in a Na­tional Cabi­net meet­ing to­day.

The NSW govern­ment will to­day an­nounce the sec­ond phase of its fi­nan­cial sup­port pack­age, in­clud­ing a $1 bil­lion fund for jobs. The pack­age also in­cludes ma­jor sup­port for the home­less pop­u­la­tion amid fears it will spike in the cri­sis.

The fund­ing, to be an­nounced by NSW Trea­surer Do­minic Per­rot­tet, also in­cludes an ex­tra $750 mil­lion to fund new jobs. The plan will also de­fer pay­roll tax for three months for busi­nesses with pay­rolls less than $10 mil­lion, on top of the three-month waiver in the first pack­age, and de­fer gam­ing tax for pubs, clubs and ho­tels.

An­other $30 mil­lion will be set aside to help lower in­come earn­ers pay elec­tric­ity bills, $34 mil­lion to pre­vent home­less­ness and $16 mil­lion for char­i­ties which will help the vul­ner­a­ble.

Prime Min­is­ter Scott Mor­ri­son (pic­tured) yes­ter­day said gov­ern­ments have been work­ing with banks and land­lords.

“This virus will end ... it will wreak enor­mous dam­age be­tween now and that point,” he said. “But on the other side, we want busi­nesses to be able to open their doors and get on back about their busi­ness, em­ploy their staff back, see their cus­tomers again and to sup­port them in the re­cov­ery.”

Mr Mor­ri­son said the govern­ment was focused on mea­sures to keep busi­nesses afloat in the short term.

“The point is, we want the busi­nesses that are ef­fec­tively go­ing into a hi­ber­na­tion, and then on the other side, we could re­sus­ci­tate them and then they get off and get run­ning again,” he said.

“For those em­ploy­ees they have stood down, we will put the safety net around them. Then on the other side, they’ll be able to stand up again.”

Mr Mor­ri­son last night di­alled into a G20 meet­ing to con­sider the global re­sponse to the im­pacts of coro­n­avirus, with lead­ers ex­pected to dis­cuss how in­ter­na­tional sup­ply chains could be kept open to en­sure the im­port of prod­ucts for crit­i­cal health ser­vices.

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