Labor to wave through stimulus worth billions


Mr Bowen said the government should have delivered the stimulus package earlier as the coronavirus crisis and bushfires threaten to tip the March quarter into negative territory. He said Labor would make decisions quickly after the package is announced. Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to reveal the package on Wednesday or Thursday.

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“If it’s sensible in design, we would support sensible measures,” Mr Bowen said on the ABC’s Insiders on Sunday.

“I can assure you this, I know as soon as the government issues a stimulus package, I know that Anthony Albanese will have a shadow cabinet meeting and facilitate any sensible packages through.”

The government is preparing for up to 200,000 Australians to contract the virus and require medical care after announcing a demand-driven hospital funding package worth up to $1 billion on Friday to help hospital treat an expected surge in patients.

Responding to questions on whether the government would consider raising Newstart to get people spending, Social Services Minister Anne Ruston said the rate of unemployment benefits was for a different debate.

“As the Prime Minister as clearly said, the stimulus package he is looking to deliver to the Australian people is around a short-term, measured and proportionate response,” she told Sky News on Sunday.

“Any long-term structural changes to anything we’re doing will be subject to a separate conversation.”

A coalition of social service and business groups including the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and KPMG have all called for Newstart to be raised. The payment is worth $279.50 a week or $40 a day and is indexed twice a year to inflation.

The Australian Council of Social Services has said it should now be increased by $95 a week after campaigning unsuccessfully for more than two years for it to be increased by $75 a week. A $75 a week increase would cost the budget $3 billion a year.

Symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. If you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

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