Australian government coronavirus stimulus packages
The government has announced more than $150 billion worth of stimulus packages to support Australian workers, jobseekers, families and businesses.
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National stimulus package details
The government announced a $17.6 billion coronavirus stimulus package which will see pensioners, benefit recipients, apprentices and small businesses benefit from cash handouts and tax relief. Here's a breakdown of what it means for you.
Update 22 March 2020: The prime minister has announced a second-stage $66 billion stimulus package. The details of which are covered below.
Update 29 March 2020: The government has announced a separate $1.1 billion stimulus package to support Medicare, mental health, domestic violence services and services supporting vulnerable people. The government has also placed a 6-month moratorium on evictions for commercial and residential tenancies to help people who are unable to meet their rental commitments due to the impact of coronavirus.
Update 30 March 2020: The government has announced a $130 billion wage subsidy package to support businesses and employees. Businesses may be eligible to receive up to $1,500 per employee on a fortnightly basis. This would then be passed on in full to eligible workers.
Update 2 April 2020: The government announced a plan to offer families fee-free childcare, with financial support provided to early childhood education and care services across the country. The funding applied from 6 April 2020 and was based on the number of children who were in care for the fortnight leading into 2 March 2020. At this stage, the value of the plan has not been announced.
All up, the government has announced more than $150 billion worth of stimulus packages to support Australian workers and businesses.
Australians receiving eligible benefit payments will receive a $750 cash payment from the government. This includes Australians receiving Newstart, Family Tax Benefit, a pension or social security payment as well as veterans and those with concession cards. The payment will be applied automatically to those eligible from 31 March 2020, with the majority of payments sent out by mid-April.
A second stimulus package announced some welfare recipients will also receive another $750 payment on 13 July 2020. Also, the JobSeeker Payment will be increased by a temporary Coronavirus Supplement of $550 a fortnight. The payment will be available to sole traders and casual workers, provided they meet income tests.
Small and medium-sized businesses
Businesses that have been negatively impacted by coronavirus may be eligible to receive the JobKeeper Payment subsidy from the government to cover employee wages and assist in keeping workers in their jobs. A fortnightly payment of $1,500 per employee will be paid for up to 6 months. Self-employed workers may also be eligible for the payment.
The government will also increase the instant asset write-off to allow businesses with an annual turnover up to $500 million (up from $50 million) to claim instant deductions on items worth up to $150,000 (up from $30,000). This will allow more businesses to benefit from the scheme, and also enable businesses to spend and claim on more items of a higher value (e.g. equipment, tools, furniture, etc). The extended instant asset write-off will be in place until 30 June 2020.
Almost 700,000 Australian businesses will also be eligible for a one-off grant between $2,000 and $25,000. Eligible businesses will be those with an annual turnover of up to $50 million which pay staff. These businesses will be eligible to receive grants of up to 50 per cent of their Business Activity Statement or Instalment Activity Statement, up to the value of $25,000. The payment will be tax free. If the business doesn't withhold tax on staff wages, they'll still be eligible for a cash payment of at least $2,000. These grants will be applied automatically to eligible businesses based on the Business Activity Statements submitted in April.
In further measures announced in the second government stimulus package, small businesses will receive cash payments up to $100,000. The government are also guaranteeing unsecured small business loans up to $250,000.
Tradespeople and apprentices
If you're a self-employed tradesperson, you might be eligible to receive a fortnightly payment of $1,500 under the JobKeeper Payment package if your work has been impacted.
The government will help pay the wages of Australian apprentices, in a bid to keep young people in a job. As part of the package, $1.3 billion will be sent to businesses with less than 20 staff to help subsidise apprentice wages. Employers can apply for this wage subsidy, and if eligible, the government will pay up to 50% of their apprentice's or trainee's wages for up to 9 months. This will help both small businesses remain open and operating, while also keep young people working.
Access to superannuation
The Government will allow people to access up to $10,000 from their superannuation from 20 April until 1 July 2020, with a further withdrawal of $10,000 being available from 1 July until 24 September 2020. There will be no tax charged on the money they access and it will not affect Centrelink payments.
There will also be a temporary 50% reduction in superannuation minimum drawdown requirements for account-based pensions in 2019-20 and 2020-21.
These government stimulus packages are primarily designed to boost construction, give businesses tax relief and help support at-risk businesses in the hospitality and tourism sector. If you're a casual work, read our guide on how to get help if you need to take sick leave or lose your job. If you're concerned about the possibility of being made redundant, read our guide on how to prepare for unemployment.
Find financial help during COVID-19
Current advice and restrictions
On 23 March 2020, the federal government announced the closure of several non essential services. This includes:
- Pubs and clubs (excluding attached bottle shops), plus hotels (excluding accommodation)
- Gyms and indoor sporting venues
- Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos and nightclubs
- Restaurants and cafes are restricted to takeaway and/or delivery only
- Religious gatherings, places of worship and funerals in enclosed spaces
From midnight 25 March, 2020, the restrictions were upgraded to include the following:
- Food courts inside shopping centres (takeaway permitted)
- Auction houses, real estate auctions and open house inspections
- Hairdressers and barber shops
- Beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons, tattoo parlours
- Spas and massage parlours
- Community and recreation centres (unless hosting essential or voluntary public services such as food banks)
- Health clubs, fitness centres, yoga, barre and spin facilities, saunas, bathhouses and wellness centres
- Boot camps, personal training operating outside and inside (outside events are limited to groups of no more than 10 people)
- Galleries, museums, national institutions, historic sites, community facilities
- Weddings are restricted to couples, the celebrant and witnesses (no more than five people)
- Funerals have been restricted to no more than 10 people
From midnight 31 March 2020, restrictions were upgraded to include the following:
- Indoor and outdoor gatherings are limited to 2 people. Exceptions include people living in the same household, family units, weddings (maximum 5 people) and funerals (maximum 10 people)
- Playgrounds, skate parks and outside gyms are closed
- Fitness bootcamps are limited to 2 people (including the instructor)
- People are advised to stay indoors unless they are exercising, shopping for essentials, going to a medical appointment or going to work
Essential services are to remain open. These services include supermarkets, petrol stations, pharmacies, convenience stores, freight and logistics and home delivery services.
Update 3 April: The government has also included church and other places of worship in the essential workers definition, however this only includes those roles necessary to facilitate the religious service or celebration (e.g. priests). You are still not allowed to attend a religious service in person, these new guidelines are only for those roles that are essential to run the service.
The federal government has imposed a mandatory 14-day hotel quarantine for Australians who are returning from overseas, starting from 29 March 2020. Regardless of your place of residence, travellers will need to be self isolated in an appointed hotel at wherever their first port of landing is.
The federal government has increased travel warnings, with a "do not travel" ban in place from 25 March 2020 and all Australians advised to cancel travel plans or return to Australia as soon as possible. There are some exceptions for people who normally live overseas, as well as for travel based on national interests, humanitarian or compassionate grounds.
The prime minister has suggested that all Australians rethink domestic travel as well. Currently, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory have locked down borders, adding further restrictions to travel in Australia. If you do travel to these states for any reason, you will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.
Update 3 April: The government has told Australians not to travel over the Easter long weekend, even if it's within your own state. The government had strongly advised that this Easter is one to stay home and celebrate in your home.
On 22 March, Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated that schools in Australia should remain open. However, decisions about education in Australia are made by state and territory governments. Some states like Victoria have brought forward their term holidays to give teachers time to prepare for distance schooling. You can find out more about school closures in specific states in our state guides listed above.
How to get help if you feel unwell
In these new and uncertain times, it can be daunting knowing where to get help. If you feel unwell there are different options to get support depending on your circumstances.
If you come down with cold or flu-like symptoms and have recently returned from overseas or have been in contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, you should contact your GP or call the HealthDirect's dedicated coronavirus hotline on 1800 022 222.
The most common symptoms include:
- Coughing, sore throat or fatigue
- Difficulty breathing
Are you unsure about your symptoms? Visit healthdirect's symptom checker for more information.
Testing samples can be taken directly by your doctor, or at a range of private pathology sites and public hospitals.
These are uncertain times, and it's normal to feel apprehensive or scared. But if COVID-19 is impacting your mental health, you don't have to go through it alone. If you're anxious about being in isolation or have concerns for a loved one, contact one of the services below or speak to your GP.
- Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
A crisis support service that provides short-term support at any time for people who are having difficulty coping or staying safe.
- Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800
A free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25 years.
- Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
Provides free support and information for mental health and wellbeing. As well as a phone service, there is an online chat option, forums and other resources on the website – including a dedicated page on how to look after your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic.
If you are in an emergency
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 000 to get help from emergency services as soon as possible.
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