Australia’s treasurer says the coronavirus has had a bigger effect on the economy than the bushfire crisis, though insists we’re still in a good position to deal with it.
The tourism industry and education sectors are already feeling the effects, with chinese visitors and students still unable to travel from China.
Josh Frydenberg told Sunrise this morning that it is going to be a tough time for the economy, though everything has essentially occurred outside of the government’s control.
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“This is going to have a very significant impact on the Australian economy, not just on the tourism and education sectors that rely on Chinese visitors and Chinese students but also on end to end supply chains.
“I was speaking to a builder just yesterday about it, who is concerned about their ability to get materials from China, as the factories there are closed.
“And of course the bushfires, the drought, the floods and indeed the trade tensions between China and the US have all hit the Australian economy as well.
“They were all beyond our control, so are the impacts of coronavirus,” Treasurer Frydenberg said.
Switzerland, Austria and Croatia have now all recorded their first cases of the disease, while Italy has now recorded 11 deaths and a 45 percent one-day increase in infections.
There are now only a handful of minor cases in Australia from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, though Prime Minister Scott Morrison said yesterday that those people are being treated.
The other 15 cases that had travelled direct from Wuhan are now all recovered, and out of hospital.
The Prime Minister credited our self-isolation method for the recoveries, while the Treasurer says our economy is similarly capable of dealing with the unfolding economic impact.
“We are in much better shape than many other nations, as you know the labour market has remained strong, we’ve created over 1.5 million jobs, the housing sector has stabilised.
“Clearance rate prices have been on the rise, giving people more confidence in the value of their own home.
“We saw that household disposable income had a big lift last year, as a result of our tax cuts that have gone into people’s pockets,” Mr Frydenberg told Sunrise.
The treasurer was also prompted over whether the government would look at a stimulus package, or if it was worried about the budget going into surplus, though he says the priority will always be making sure that communities in need are supported.
“This is actually a health crisis primarily, as opposed to a financial crisis…it’s definitely having a broader impact across the global economy and it’s still evolving.
“But our first priority has always been to get support to the communities in need, just as we did with the $2 billion National Bushfire Recovery fund.
“We’ve already provided significant support to those areas in need, we’ll continue to maintain a watching brief, but the nature of this crisis is very different to previous economic crises.
“It is playing out across the rest of the world, but Australia is very resilient and our economy is in good shape to weather what is clearly a global health crisis,” Mr Frydenberg said.