Prime Minister Scott Morrison has suggested the government could launch a stimulus package for sectors impacted by the coronavirus as he unveiled emergency measures to control the pandemic.
While Mr Morrison said the coronavirus was a “health crisis, not a financial crisis”, he acknowledged that the government could be forced to step in with stimulus measures that are “targeted, modest and scalable”.
“We are quite aware of where the virus is impacting in particular sectors more than others,” Mr Morrison told a press conference in Canberra.
“Obviously, in the travel sector it’s having a very big impact, in the education sector, but also as I mentioned the other day the impact of supply chain breakdowns, not just now between Australia and China, but in a more broader global pandemic stage those impacts would also be quite relevant.”
Tourism has been hit particularly hard over the opening months of 2020, with the bushfire emergency seeing communities throughout Australia dealing with large declines in visitors. The coronavirus is likely to compound that, with travel restrictions and a decline in consumer confidence meaning more people will stay home.
SARS saw similar drops in tourism, with a material decline in short-term visits during the first two quarters of 2003. At that time, travellers from China accounted for only 4 per cent of short-term inbound travellers to Australia. In 2020, they account for 15 per cent.
“As Australia goes into dealing with this issue, the financial stability that is present is a big plus for Australia,” Mr Morrison said.
“Of all the countries that are prepared and are in a position to be prepared, I’m glad we’re in Australia where we’re able to have these types of responses.”
The announcement comes as the federal government extends a travel ban for China for another week. The government will continue to monitor the ban on a weekly basis.
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