In a joint update this week from the Hon. Josh Frydenberg MP, Treasurer of Australia, and Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance, the two stated that the Federal Government has taken “decisive and unprecedented action” to protect Australians and the economy from the effects of the coronavirus. So far, the Government has thrown $320 billion at the crisis, or 16.4 per cent of GDP.
With the coronavirus pandemic having major health and economic impact globally, the Treasurer and Minister for Finance state that Australia has made “important gains” in containing the spread of the virus.
“The near-term outlook depends critically on this ongoing success and our ability to gradually ease restrictions so people can return to work,” they noted.
“It is reasonable to expect that the pace and scope of any easing in containment measures will become more clear in the period ahead while economic data on the current state of the economy will become more readily available.”
Given the high degree of uncertainty around the economic impact of the coronavirus on the domestic and international economies, last month the Government released the 2020-21 Budget on 6 October 2020.
In the interim, Mr Frydenberg and Mr Cormann state that the Government has continued to provide updates on the fiscal position through the release of the Australian Government General Government Sector Monthly Financial Statements.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) is also releasing additional and more frequent information to enhance understanding of the social and economic impacts of the coronavirus.
Building on these updates, the Treasurer is expected to provide a Ministerial Statement to the House of Representatives and the Minister for Finance to the Senate on 12 May 2020. The statement will reportedly outline the impact of the coronavirus on the economy and the Government’s actions to date.
Moreover, the Federal Government is also expected to also provide an economic update on the economic and fiscal outlook in June, following the release of the March quarter National Accounts.
“Australia entered the coronavirus crisis from a position of economic strength. The Government returned the Budget to balance for the first time in 11 years, while government debt to GDP was about a quarter of what it is in the United States or United Kingdom, and about one-seventh of what it was in Japan,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“The measures we have implemented are temporary, targeted and proportionate to the challenge we face and will ensure Australia bounces back stronger on the other side, without undermining the structural integrity of the budget and maintaining our commitment to medium-term fiscal sustainability.”