As Australia slowly emerges from isolation, the nation’s economy is reopening, and even looking rather better than expected. But Australia still faces grim months ahead as unemployment numbers grow and the true extent of business survival rates emerge.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg described the economic data as sobering when he recently gave an update to parliament. In this podcast, Frydenberg says there would be greater reason for optimism, especially for the tourism sector, if states were more willing open their borders.
“Now we need to see those state borders opened, whether it’s in Queensland or Western Australia, South Australia or Tasmania,” he says.
The Northern Territory will begin easing its border restrictions from June 15, scrapping mandatory quarantine for interstate arrivals. But both the Queensland and Western Australian governments say they will likely keep the measures in place for several months. Tasmania’s premier too is standing firm on his decision to keep the state’s borders closed.
Frydenberg says the government has reacted to COVID-19 “in an unprecedented way in terms of the scale and the size of our response” but reiterates that “the measures are temporary and targeted. And we want people to get back to work as soon as possible”.
However he acknowledges the housing construction and tourism sectors are in need of particular support.
On housing, “we recognise that there may be contracts in place to July or August, which is going to see the pipeline continue to then, but then we’re going to see probably a steady fall after that. And that’s the gap that we need to try to fill with particular measures.”
“It’s a watching brief, but certainly both areas are a focus for the government.”
Frydenberg also indicates that after the June review of the JobKeeper payment, some people could get less money than they are receiving now.
“There are a few issues we need to look at, including some workers within the JobKeeper programme getting paid more than they normally would otherwise get.”
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A List of Ways to Die, Lee Rosevere, from Free Music Archive.
Authors: Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra