Federal Government warns Australians will lose jobs as COVID-19 hits economy

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann speaks at a press conference in Canberra.

The Federal Government has warned businesses will close and Australians will lose their jobs as it prepares to roll out more measures to mitigate the devastating economic impact of COVID-19.

Australians have been told to brace for a six-month battle with coronavirus as the national cabinet finalises a second round of stimulus to ease the economic strain of the pandemic.

The prime minister will hold further meetings with Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann on Tuesday as it considers more support for sectors hardest hit in the downturn.

Senator Mathias Cormann said the rapidly evolving situation had already forced them to scale-up their fiscal response to the health crisis. 

“Indeed businesses will close and Australians will lose their jobs,” he told reporters in Canberra.

“We are aware of the challenges, we are aware of what is in front of us.

“That is why we are very carefully considering how we can get the necessary support to get Australians through this period.”

Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann.

AAP

Senator Cormann said the hospitality and tourism and event management sectors would be among the worst impacted.

“We want as many Australians as possible to remain in their job,” he said. 

“And indeed for those who do lose their jobs – to find employment elsewhere in sectors in the economy that are doing better than before.

“But there will be a limit to that and that is why we are very conscious of the fact that we need to provide the appropriate levels of support through our income support system.”

Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said one in 13 jobs relied on tourism and hospitality.

“Those businesses and those jobs are all on the line right now,” he told Sky News.

Aviation is another area of the economy getting smashed, with air travel plummeting as people heed calls to stop the spread of the virus.

The initial $17.6 billion package targeted relief for small and medium businesses, along with cash payments to people on welfare

The government intends to pass both tranches of its support package when parliament sits next week.

Ministers responsible for the federal budget, and the national security committee, will meet on Tuesday to discuss the stimulus package and wider response to coronavirus.

Senator Cormann said support is needed to get people through this difficult period to the “recovery” on the other side.

“We want that recovery to be as strong as it possibly can be,” he said. 

National cabinet will discuss measures on Tuesday night such as the aged care sector, indoor meetings and remote communities.

Mr Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg last week announced a $17.6 billion stimulus package.

That contained support for small and medium businesses, cash payments to people on welfare, but the government recognises there will be a deeper-than-expected economic impact.

Queensland, Victoria, the ACT and South Australia have declared a state of emergency while Tasmania will force all people coming to the island state to fill out passenger arrival cards.

Coronavirus cases across the nation have reached more than 360 while five people have died.

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