The NSW government has announced a second round of economic stimulus measures to help businesses as the number of coronavirus cases in the state tops 1000.
In a statement released this morning, the state government revealed the creation of a $1 billion Working for NSW fund to sustain business, create new jobs and retrain employees.
The fund is already being put into action with 1000 new staff for Service NSW announced this week to be funded by the program. The Working for NSW fund will comprise $750 million in new funding and $250 million announced last week for additional cleaning services.
The new package also includes the deferral of payroll tax for businesses with payrolls over $10 million for six months. Those with payrolls of $10 million or less already received a three-month waiver on payroll tax in the first package, and will now get an additional three month deferral as well.
There is also a deferral of gaming tax for clubs, pubs and hotels, and lotteries tax for six months, conditional on these funds being used to retain staff, as well as the d eferral of the parking space levy for six months and the d eferral of rents for six months for commercial tenants with less than 20 employees in all Government-owned properties.
Meanwhile, there will be a $34 million boost in funding to prevent homelessness, $30 million to boost the Energy Accounts Payments Assistance scheme, $ 10 million to support charities and $6 million additional funding for Lifeline’s operations in NSW.
Deputy Premier John Barilaro said the NSW Government’s package will support employment, provide relief for business and protect those most in need.
‘‘These are unprecedented times and if we are to emerge in the best shape possible we need to ensure businesses keep their heads above water and keep employees on the books,” Mr Barilaro said.
“Now is the time for all of us to work together, support each-other, show compassion and lend a hand wherever we can to those hurting.
“We will do whatever it takes to help businesses stay afloat so that they can hold onto as many jobs as possible as we get through this crisis. We will also be there to support those most vulnerable to ensure no one is left behind.”
NSW last week announced a $2.3 billion funding package which included a $700 million to boost health and $1.6 billion for tax cuts and job creation.
NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said the new measures were timely, targeted and temporary and had been “designed for maximum impact and immediate effect”.
“The NSW Government is leading from the front with a package which complements the stimulus measures delivered by the Commonwealth and RBA,” Mr Perrottet said.
“When you combine this announcement with last week’s stimulus package the NSW Government is ensuring billions are available to help business, support jobs, boost our health system and protect the vulnerable.
“Our expectation is that any relief provided by the NSW Government will be used to contribute to help businesses stay in business and people stay in jobs. It’s vital we keep people employed and ensure we have the ability to rebound when things improve.”
NSW now has 1219 confirmed cases of coronavirus and seven people have died, adding to the national death toll of 13.
Some 16 patients are in intensive care, with 10 requiring ventilators. Two more children in NSW on Thursday – girls aged one and two – were confirmed to have COVID-19, taking the number of child cases to four.
A midwife at St George Hospital also tested positive for the virus, with her patients contacted and told to self-isolate.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian said on Thursday police would ramp up their public presence and that no cruise ship passengers would be permitted to disembark in NSW until further notice.
She said protocols on disembarkation needed tightening and that she was working with the Australian Border Force on new measures.
The Ruby Princess cruise ship – which disembarked passengers last week without adequate checks – is responsible for 121 COVID-19 cases in NSW. Meanwhile, new figures show Waverley Council in Sydney’s eastern suburbs has recorded the highest number of confirmed coronavirus.
The local government area has had 105 cases of COVID-19, according to data published on the NSW Health website on Thursday.
The Sydney LGA has recorded 69, while Northern Beaches and Woollahra have recorded 68 and 66 cases respectively.
Ms Berejiklian said the government was “looking very closely” at the impact of Monday’s shutdowns on pubs, cinemas and churches. If they weren’t sufficient, further action would be taken.
NSW Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said the full effect of the second stage of shutdowns – in place from Thursday – wouldn’t be known for some days.
“It does take us at least seven and possibly 14 days to really get a picture. Remember we also have to take out the fact we have returning travellers come in with disease,” she said.
Five people in NSW were handed infringement notices on Thursday for flouting coronavirus public health orders.
Police have the power to hand out fines of $1000 to individuals and $5000 to businesses that breach public health orders or ministerial directions. Ms Berejiklian, meanwhile, confirmed 292 Australians who had disembarked from the Norwegian Jewel cruise ship in the United States and flown home were in isolation in a Sydney CBD hotel.
They were escorted to the hotel by border authorities upon arrival, while five passengers with respiratory symptoms were taken to hospital.