The right package for extraordinary circumstances

The Morrison Government has announced the right package for extraordinary circumstances, focusing on the most vulnerable businesses and most vulnerable Australians, Business Council Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“This helps put a floor under the economy and the country. We strongly welcome the government’s swift action to provide a wage subsidy to keep workers in jobs, boosted income support, and more help for hard hit small and medium sized businesses.

“Business is doing everything we can to keep Australians safe and support staff, customers, suppliers and the community. These measures will mean more businesses can weather the storm, keeping their doors open, services running, and importantly, keeping as many Australians in jobs as possible.

“It is vital we put a floor under vulnerable businesses and Australians to help them ride through these challenging times and rebound.

“We applaud the government’s measures to double income assistance, making it more flexible. Waiving the rules and waiting periods for payments means people who need assistance now can access payments quickly.

“Crucially, giving Australians easier hardship access to their own money in superannuation accounts is a welcome step to provide additional help.

“The new Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme on top of already announced measures to access affordable credit will provide further certainty to businesses.

“Temporarily relaxing regulations for financially distressed businesses will give them a shield to keep employing as we make our way through this extraordinary crisis.

“It is a national imperative to pull together, to keep people working and to keep things going so that once this crisis passes we can recover stronger than ever.

“It is absolutely essential that we keep production going, including in the manufacturing, essential retail, energy, mining and resources sectors, along with all of the logistics that support them. If we don’t we will make recovery even more difficult and we will see more job losses.

“We must also continue to keep our supply of credit open, and make it as easy for the banks to do business as possible.

“Businesses, big and small, are the glue that keeps their communities together. When this crisis passes we will need the right policies in place to ensure they can ramp back up quickly. 

“Support for small and medium sized businesses is crucial at this stage but the longer the pandemic continues, the more vulnerable Australia’s large employers will become.

“Some larger businesses in hard-hit sectors will struggle and they will need additional support to manage cashflow including payroll tax exemptions, access to the depreciation allowance and moving from monthly to quarterly tax payments.  

“If these companies begin to wind down their activities we will see very serious job losses.

“Conversely, other large businesses, those with big balance sheets, can drive big investments, support huge supply chains and drive the demand which will be crucial to recovery.

“They will need access to the depreciation allowance and other incentives to drive those investments even harder.

“Businesses need as much room to move as possible to keep employees working.

“We will need to lift the regulatory burdens and blockages that put a handbrake on new projects and investments and take a common sense approach.  And, we’ll need to make every part of the economy as productive as possible.

“To get through this challenge all Australians must step up and our largest companies are doing just that.

Companies are being as flexible possible to ensure the safety of staff by introducing working from home arrangements where possible and split shifts. They are paying staff, including casual workers by creating special types of epidemic and pandemic leave.

“Businesses are restocking shelves as quickly as possible, they are keeping their shops open and supporting communities by paying their suppliers fast and, our banks are continuing to lend, they are extending payment terms and deferring repayments.