Good evening Australia.
Tonight I want to talk to you about the global coronavirus, what it means for you and your family and what the Government is doing to see Australia through. This virus began in China and has now reached some 114 countries. More than 124,000 have contracted the virus, including 140 here in Australia. The medical experts tell us that for most Australians in good health, who contract the virus, they will experience a mild illness. That said, this virus is also highly transmissible and for those Australians whose health is more vulnerable, especially the elderly, the risk is more severe.
While this is a global health crisis, there are very real and significant economic impacts. For all of these reasons, we have been taking the Coronavirus very seriously. I want to assure you and your family tonight that while Australia, cannot and is not immune from this virus, we are well prepared and are well equipped to deal with it, and we do have a clear plan to see Australia through. Our plan has three goals.
- Protect Australians’ health
- Secure Australians’ jobs and livelihoods, and
- Set Australia up to bounce back stronger when the crisis is over.
Firstly, to protect Australians, we were one of the first countries to recognise the seriousness of the coronavirus.
- We quickly established travel bans from the most affected countries, and scaled up screening on our borders.
- We evacuated Australians from virus hotspots and set up quarantine facilities
- And we have funded a $2.4 billion national health response plan to
- set up more than 100 pop up clinics
- and to provide support for aged care
- Increase funding to Public hospitals, and
- boost our National Medical Stockpile of essential medicines and masks.
Secondly, to keep Australians in jobs and businesses in business we have today announced a $17.6 billion economic stimulus plan:
- we’re subsidising half the wages of 117,000 apprentices in small businesses
- providing one-off $750 payments to more than 6 million Australians to spend in our economy now. Almost two and half million pensioners will receive this support.
- there’s direct cash support of up to $25,000 for small and medium sized business that employ over seven million Australians, to boost their cash flow
- And we’re backing businesses to keep investing by increasing tax incentives to help them buy new equipment now.
And thirdly, once the virus has run its course, we are making sure Australia can bounce back strongly. For the most affected regions and industries, like tourism and Upper North Queensland, there is a special $1 billion fund to support targeted local recovery plans. And as our economy bounces back, which it will, so will our Budget, because we have not loaded up spending off into the future. We can take this action now because we have worked hard to bring the budget back into balance, to maintain our AAA credit rating and work with State Governments to provide a world-class health system.
Now I know, many Australians are anxious about this and we still have a long way to go. But be assured we are taking action and we have a clear plan.
The months ahead will present many challenges, and we will respond to them. We will continue to keep you updated and take decisions based on the best possible medical advice. And if you have questions please visit health.gov.au or talk to your local GP.
We’ll get through this together Australia. We all have a role to play. Employers, nurses, doctors, teachers, scientists, friends, family and neighbours. I know we’ll all do our bit.
Thank you for listening tonight and good night Australia.