THURSDAY, MARCH 12
The Federal Government’s stimulus package aimed at keeping Australians in jobs in the face of the coronavirus will see $17.6 billion pumped into the economy.
The majority of the money ($11 billion), to be paid out between now and July, will include:
- Most welfare recipients getting $750 cash to spend
- Nearly 700,000 small and medium businesses receiving cash payments to help pay wages or hire extra staff
- Small businesses will also getti9ng tax breaks
- $1.3 billion in support payments provided to keep apprentices in their jobs
- Measures to help casual workers who lose their jobs because of the virus
Announcing the package today, the Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it would provide an immediate stimulus to the economy amid fears it could take a major hit from the coronavirus.
More than 6 million welfare recipients, including pensioners, carers, veterans, families, young people and job seekers will get a one-off cash payment of $750 from March 31.
“The biggest beneficiaries of that will be pensioners,” Mr Morrison said.
“They comprise around half of those who will receive those payments, but they also will be extended to those in family tax benefits, which obviously goes to those in earning households.”
Mr Morrison said casual workers who contracted COVID-19, or had to isolate themselves, would be eligible for a Newstart welfare payment while out of work.
The typical wait time to access the payment will be waived, but people will face an assets test before receiving the money.
The Government will spend $11 billion before the end of this financial year, with the remainder to be injected into the economy before July 2021.
The Government wants its stimulus to be temporary and offer an immediate boost to the economy rather than making permanent changes to the budget.
Nearly 700,000 small and medium businesses will receive cash payments of between $2,000 and $25,000 to help pay wages or hire extra staff.
The measure is the largest part of the package, and is estimated to cost $6.7 billion.
The stimulus package also includes $1.3 billion in support payments to keep apprentices in their jobs amid fears the spread of the coronavirus could have a crippling effect on employment.
Medium and big businesses will be encouraged to spend on equipment and other investments through an extension of the instant asset write-off, which means they can claim a tax break for what they spend.
This is currently restricted to companies with turnovers of up to $50 million, for maximum investments of $30,000.
But this will be significantly lifted, allowing companies with turnovers of up to $500 million to make assets write-offs of up to $150,000.
US President Donald Trump has told a nationwide address on the threat posed by the coronavirus that all travel between Europe and the US, excluding the UK, will be suspended for 30 days from Friday.
This came as the global death toll from coronavirus headed towards 5,000, the World Health Organisation declared it a pandemic and Hollywood actor Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson were admitted to hospital on the Gold Coast after testing positive to the illness.
In addition, Australia’s federal Education Minister said Easter school holidays may have to be extended to contain the virus.
Dan Tehan told ABC television on Thursday that medical advice would guide the holidays decision and the government wouldn’t be rushed even though a last-minute call could leave working parents in a bind.
“It might be that school holidays need to be prolonged,” he said
“We’ll listen to that medical advice and we’ll act on it. But the most important thing is we’ve put contingencies in place to be able to deal with it.”
And as new cases of the virus were reported across Australia, 63 people were quarantined in Cambodia after a British cruise passenger tested positive during a luxury holiday.
This morning, the Australian Federal Health Department confirmed more than 110 COVID-19 infections had been detected across the country, but that number later rose, with new cases reported in Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania.
President Trump used a rare televised national address to make the surprise Europe travel announcement. ,
The travel restrictions will not apply to travel from the UK to US.
In the speech, Trump blamed the European Union for not taking swift enough action to restrict travel from China in the early days of the outbreak.
He also urged Congress to legislate to reduce payroll taxes to help boost the economy, a proposal that has faced resistance from Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill.
In Italy, all stores except pharmacies and grocery stores are being closed nationwide in a new wave of drastic measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
In addition to store closures, companies must close all their departments that are not essential to production.
Services such as hairdressers and beauty parlours will also be closed, along with bars and restaurants that cannot guarantee they can keep a distance of at least one metre between customers.
WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the number of cases outside of China had increased 13-fold in the past two weeks, but added “all countries can change the course of this pandemic”.
The announcement came as new figures from Italy showed the death rate among coronavirus patients in that country was more than 6 per cent, higher than the global average of about 3.6 per cent.
More than 800 people in Italy have now died and hundreds more are being treated for COVID-19 in hospital intensive care units.
The president of Spanish soccer club Getafe says his team will not travel to Italy to play Inter Milan in the Europa League and does not care if the decision costs them elimination.
Angel Torres also said he was concerned the team would not be able to return to Spain because of travel restrictions.
“If we are eliminated because of that, so be it,” Mr Torres said late on Tuesday.
“I’m not going to be the one taking any risks. I’m not going to go to a place where I don’t want to go.”
Spanish authorities closed schools and halted direct flights to and from Italy, though charter flights apparently could be used by teams.
In Iran, the death of another 62 people took the county’s coronavirus death toll 354.
There have been 9,000 confirmed cases in Iran, where the virus has spread to all of the country’s provinces.
Across the Middle East, the vast majority of the 9,700 people who have contracted the coronavirus and the COVID-19 illness it causes are in hard-hit Iran or had recently returned from there.
Just before he was sentenced to 23 years jail over rape and sexual assault convictions, former Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein said he “really feel remorse about this situation”
“I feel it deeply in my heart. … I’m really trying to be a better person,” he told the court.
“I feel remorse for all of the men who are going through this fight.”
He said he was worried about “thousands of men” being denied due process in the #MeToo era.
In a rambling statement, he said he was “confused” and that he believed he had a “serious friendship” with Ms Mann and Ms Haleyi.
Weinstein said he had worked too hard and put too much pressure on himself.
The sentence was handed down in Manhattan criminal court by Justice James Burke, who presided over Weinstein’s trial last month.
A jury on February 24 found Weinstein, 67, guilty of sexually assaulting former production assistant Mimi Haleyi and raping former aspiring actress Jessica Mann.
The jury of seven men and five women acquitted Weinstein on the most serious charges, a single count of first-degree rape as well as two counts of predatory sexual assault, which carried a potential life sentence.
Once one of Hollywood’s most influential producers, Weinstein had faced the possibility of a total of 29 years in prison.
The six women who testified against him were in court for the proceedings.
In an emotional statement in court, Ms Haleyi spoke of the trauma she had endured since the attack, saying, “It scarred me deeply, mentally and emotionally, perhaps irreparably, perhaps forever.”
Ms Haleyi testified at the trial that Weinstein invited her to his home in 2006 after she had worked on one of his television productions, backed her into a bedroom, held her down on the bed and forced himself on her orally.
Ms Mann told jurors that Weinstein raped her in a Manhattan hotel room in March 2013, about a month into what she described as an “extremely degrading” relationship with him that continued for several years after the attack.
Ms Mann called Weinstein a “Jekyll and Hyde” character, charming in public but prone to rage when they were alone.
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