What the voters think of Treasurer Tim Pallas’ announcements


However, the loss of migration due to COVID-19 is a main driver of house prices, which he said the state government couldn’t do much about.

Mr Morgan is also relieved to hear the government will be making kinder free for three- and four-year-olds.

He recently had discussions with his partner fearing getting his second-youngest child into kinder would be too expensive next year.

“If that’s on there, then definitely she’ll be off to kinder and that should free up some time for everyone.”

Mr Morgan, who is manager of renewable energy company ANOVA, is happy about the expenditure for replacing old heaters in homes and the big battery that will support renewable energy capacity.

Climate change gives him anxiety. He remembers seeing his son watch footage of the bushfires last year.

“He was pretty terrified,” Mr Morgan said. ‘How are we not taking this super seriously?”

Mentone resident Marcia Scott.

Mentone resident Marcia Scott.Credit:Scott McNaughton

The unemployed

Marcia Scott, 55, has been looking for a job as an executive assistant or graphic designer since March – without any luck.

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“My chances to get an interview are limited,” Ms Scott said. “I’m at the bottom of the list.”

Ms Scott has had to rely on JobSeeker and her savings to keep her family afloat.

While Ms Scott is glad the Victorian budget has set aside $50 million in wage subsidies for women over 45 – which equates to 2000 jobs – she said: “I don’t think 2000 jobs is enough.”

Ms Scott is excited by the new digital skills and jobs program, which will help Victorians retrain through short courses and industry internships.

“That’s what we need, more work experience, more confidence to go back into the workforce,” she said.

She said she wished more money was put towards community programs to help older Australian women find work.

“Building my confidence, evaluating my CV, teaching me interview techniques, even dressing me for interviews,” she said.

“Out of everything, [community programs] have been the best help for me.”

Taylor Beaumont-Whiteley runs his own walking tour business, Discovera, in Melbourne CBD.

Taylor Beaumont-Whiteley runs his own walking tour business, Discovera, in Melbourne CBD. Credit:Wayne Taylor

The small business owner

The new regional travel voucher scheme will spend almost $28 million incentivising Victorians to spend big in the state’s regions.

Melbourne CBD tour operator Taylor Beaumont-Whiteley said he was happy the regions were getting help, but he didn’t understand why the scheme was not statewide.

“It would have been great to see it include the CBD,” he said. “How do we make sure venues in the CBD don’t go bust?”

Mr Beaumont-Whiteley had to put his hidden bar and historical walking tour company Discovera on ice at the start of the first wave.

“The bars were getting quieter and quieter and it felt like something ominous was coming,” he said.

“Obviously, I haven’t had any tours since then.”

Even with bars reopening across Melbourne, Mr Beaumont-Whiteley said small bars were still struggling with limited patron numbers and tough COVID-19 restrictions.

“We can’t expect the government to do everything for us,” he said. “But it would have been nice to see the CBD get as much love.”

Commuter David Hawkins.

Commuter David Hawkins.Credit:Simon Schluter

The commuter

Balnarring resident David Hawkins says the budget is fantastic for people in the outer suburbs in terms of service provision, mental health, housing and education.

But not being close to a railway line and a lack of investment in buses means there will be no change to his two-hour commute from the Mornington Peninsula to the city.

Mr Hawkins has to drive to Bittern station, then take three trains to get to work in the city. The waiting times at stations and the knock-on effect of delays add to the daily grind.

“If they were more innovative about the way they did it, I might be able to catch a bus all the way from here into the city,” Mr Hawkins said.

He also said the government should look into smaller “buses on demand” that take advantage of technology used by ride-sharing apps. That would save him driving to Bittern station, where his car has been broken into twice.

The four hours commuting meant “decreasing time with family and that’s terrible”, Mr Hawkins said.

Emma Beilharz and her son Hudson Holtzman.

Emma Beilharz and her son Hudson Holtzman.Credit:Simon Schluter

The family

Single mother Emma Beilharz, 35, is glad the Victorian government has introduced free kinder for four-year-olds in 2021 – but said it won’t help her or other parents on low incomes.

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“Being a single parent, this budget release doesn’t affect me whatsoever,” Ms Beilharz said. “You only get [kinder] free if it’s for the 15 hours [per week].”

“Who’s going to employ someone who can only work for four hours, three days a week?”

To keep her small business alive, Ms Beilharz had to sacrifice quality time with her four-year-old son, Hudson.

“I can probably count on two hands how many days I’ve had off since May,” she said.

She believes more flexible kinder services – including weekend care – would help a lot more women find work.

“No one works 9 to 5, Monday to Friday any more,” Ms Beilharz said. “If they’re wanting to get women back into the workforce, they need to be making more adaptable kinder and childcare scenarios.”

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NSW budget: deficit to hit $16bn as treasurer unveils plan to replace stamp duty with annual property tax | New South Wales


The New South Wales government will attempt to turn around a historic $16bn budget deficit bought on by the Covid-19 pandemic by undertaking a major reform of its tax system.

Handing down his fourth budget on Tuesday, the NSW treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, outlined the devastating toll wrought by the pandemic on the state’s economy, including a $6.9bn deficit in 2019-20, expected to rise to $16bn in 2020-21.

At the height of restrictions introduced to stop the spread of the virus, Perrottet said in his budget speech, the cost to the state’s economy was estimated to be $1.4bn every week. The state’s economy contracted by 8.6% in the June quarter, the worst on record, and almost 270,000 jobs were lost between March and May. The state’s net debt is expected to peak at $104bn by June 2024.

“Sometimes big numbers like that hardly feel real,” Perrottet told parliament after releasing the budget. “But the impact they have had on our people is very real.”

The eye-watering deficit is the result of $29bn Covid-19 stimulus spending – the largest of any state – and a forecast $25bn drop in revenue over the next five years.

To arrest the decline, Perrottet said, the government would phase out stamp duty on new property purchases in favour of an annual land tax. Long flagged by the NSW government, the move could inject an extra $11bn into the state’s coffers over four years.

But it will not happen at once. Rather, the treasurer said, the government would start a public consultation process on a proposal to give homebuyers the choice to opt out of paying stamp duty in favour of an annual property tax. The change would not affect current owners who are not buying or selling property, and the exemption on stamp duty for first home buyers buying a property costing less than $1m would be replaced with a $25,000 grant.

Perrottet said the change would give the state “a realistic pathway to achieving the most important state economic reform of the last half century”.

“Stamp duty is a relic from a bygone era when you picked one career, started a family, bought a home and basically settled in for life,” he said.

“It adds tens of thousands of dollars to the cost of the biggest financial commitment most people ever make. If you want to move, change jobs, or switch careers, upsize or downsize to match your family size, stamp duty can be the spanner in the works. It is holding our economy back at a time we need to be going full throttle.”

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian bumps elbows with treasurer Dominic Perrottet after his budget speech. Photograph: Dean Lewins/AAP

The government also unveiled a number of spending initiatives aimed at encouraging growth, including $500m on an “out and about voucher”, which will give every adult in the state $100 to spend on eating out or visiting cultural attractions in the state.

The government will also spend $812m to build 1,300 new social houses across the state. A little over half of those will be built in the Sydney metro area.

Another $120m will be spent to provide free preschool to about 44,000 under-fives, and $337m to provide tutors for school students who had their learning disrupted during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Perrottet told parliament low interest rates meant it was a “golden opportunity” for the government to spend.

“Doing nothing would inflict long-term damage on future generations, and we won’t let that happen,” he said.

“Our stimulus will be unprecedented in scale and quality – tenaciously targeted to generate jobs.”

The government also announced new spending measures on infrastructure projects, including $10.4bn over the next four years on the Metro West underground program and $9.2bn on a new metro line to the new western Sydney airport.

The new spending measures were welcomed by business groups. The executive director of the Sydney Business Chamber, Katherine O’Regan, said: “This big spending budget puts Sydney in a strong position to lead the nation’s economic recovery, with funding for big transport infrastructure projects and other job creation and investment drivers.”

But unions renewed their criticism of the government’s previously announced decision to cap wage increases of frontline workers, including nurses and paramedics, at 1.5%.



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NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet set to deliver budget during coronavirus full of proven measures and plenty of gambles



Dominic Perrottet’s legacy as Treasurer may well be that he handed down the biggest deficit New South Wales ever experienced.

While he’s well aware the figures in tomorrow’s Budget could easily become a trivia question used in years to come, the Treasurer is hopeful history may be kinder to him.

“Success is going to be not measured on the day,” Perrottet said at a mental health budget announcement yesterday.

“Success is going to be in five, 10 years’ time where people look back and see where the New South Wales economy has come from.”

Before the coronavirus pandemic, Treasury forecast average surpluses of $1.9 billion over four years and net debt was tipped to be $12.9 billion by June 2020 — the lowest of all states.

But tomorrow the deficit will be in the tens of billions and the Treasurer has fast become an advocate of borrowing.

“There’s never been a better time to borrow,” Perrottet said.

“We’re borrowing around 1 per cent. That is an incredibly low rate and we’re going to take that opportunity.”

While he is remaining tight-lipped until tomorrow on just what the state’s net debt position will be, this is a dramatic shift in approach from Perrottet.

For him, borrowing is seen as the only way to create jobs and stimulate the economy when faced with a drastic decline in revenue from the GST, stamp duty and payroll tax.

Last year the state’s unemployment was at 4.4 per cent. It’s currently at 7.2 per cent and tipped to increase further.

In an attempt to replace the hundreds of thousands of jobs lost, the Government is determined to deliver almost all of its infrastructure pipeline.

It’ll fast track some and it’s added small to medium size projects.

So, while there’s been a change in tack when it comes to debt, the Treasurer remains reliant on his past strategy to build the state out of this economic crisis.

Perrottet has also flagged further privatisation of state-owned assets and he is again using the public sector to save money by imposing a cap on wage increases.

In the end it’ll be a budget of tried and tested measures as well as one full of gambles which the Treasurer can only hope will pay off over time.



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Banking royal commission victims urge Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to keep responsible lending laws


Consumer advocates and banking royal commission witnesses who exposed their suffering at the hands of major banks are urging the Federal Government to stop the winding back of responsible lending laws, saying the change could lead to a debt crisis.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg in September said responsible lending laws had led to “restrictive lending” and needed to change to get more money into the economy.

Mr Frydenberg wants the laws watered down to help lift the country out of the coronavirus recession, but it’s not clear that there is a credit crunch.

Even in the depths of Melbourne’s lockdown and in the middle of our first recession in three decades, lending for housing jumped almost 12 per cent, year-on-year in July. That was the biggest one-month jump in 11 years.

The Consumer Action Law Centre, which helped many commission witnesses through the gruelling process, says changing responsible lending laws could lead to trouble.

“The Treasurer’s proposals are a real slap in the face to anyone who gave evidence at the royal commission,” said the centre’s policy director, Katherine Temple.

The first of Commissioner Kenneth Hayne’s 76 recommendations was for the Government to leave the National Consumer Credit Act alone.

He said it “should not be amended” when it comes to a lender’s obligation to assess if a customer is suitable for a loan, credit card or overdraft.

But consumer advocates say the draft legislation does precisely that, rolling back consumer protections and putting the onus on customers — instead of banks — to work out what is suitable and what they can pay back.

“We tend to underestimate our expenses and overestimate our income. That’s just a behavioural bias that we all have.

“Banks can make use of the very rich data they have to assess whether people can afford to repay these loans.”

Mr Frydenberg again defended the changes when contacted by ABC News, noting debt collectors would soon need an Australian credit licence, and that responsible lending obligations would still apply to small amount credit contracts (SACCs) below $2,000 and consumer leases.

“The Morrison Government is implementing the most significant reforms to Australia’s credit framework in a decade to increase the flow of credit to households and businesses, reduce red tape and strengthen protections for vulnerable consumers,” he said in a statement.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said responsible lending laws had led to “restrictive lending”.(ABC News: Nick Haggarty)

Mr Frydenberg said the Government had also introduced a number of significant reforms that have strengthened consumer protection.

This, he said, included handing more power to corporate watchdog, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), product design and distribution obligations, a best interest duty for mortgage brokers, increased financial sector civil and criminal penalties, enhanced protections for credit card customers, and establishing the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).

Victims speak out

Baptist Minister the Reverend Grant Stewart spoke from the witness box on behalf of his adult son during the royal commission in 2018.

The then-26-year-old, who has Down syndrome, was aggressively and unwittingly sold several insurance policies he did not understand after answering an unsolicited call.

Man with glasses stands in church
The Reverend Grant Stewart says he is “disturbed” the Government wants to wind back responsible lending laws.(Peter Healy)

Extracts of sales calls illustrated Mr Stewart’s son’s confusion and limited responses, as a Freedom Insurance sales agent spoke quickly and with a thick British accent about the details of the products.

Mr Stewart said he was disappointed the Treasurer — who has met the family and cited his son’s case several times since the final report of the royal commission — was seeking to reduce protections for consumers.

“Given the amount of effort that was involved in putting the royal commission together, in the amount of people who gave evidence … it does seem to me we should honour that process,” he said.

In his letter, Mr Stewart thanked the Treasurer for changes to anti-hawking laws and ASIC’s ban on the unsolicited telephone sales of life insurance, but called for protections to be extended, not wound back.

“I am disturbed that the Government is now proposing to remove the responsible lending laws, which were introduced after the global financial crisis and that Commissioner Hayne found justified (given the evidence showed the banks were failing to comply with the laws) to attempt to protect consumers from the misconduct of banks,” he wrote.

“Any reduction of lending protections might affect the wider community, particularly those who are most vulnerable and at risk to unscrupulous sales or advertising.”

Among many changes, the draft legislation removes the requirements for banks to assess if customers will be able to pay off a credit card they are offered, or to make inquiries of people taking out reverse mortgages.

Witness wants better system

Pensioner Robert Regan was the first non-expert to appear the royal commission.

The widower went from having savings and a fully paid-off house to relying on charities for food after he took out large loans when he was sucked into an online romance scam.

His ANZ bank manager helpfully wired $35,000 to the scammers in the UK despite the loan being erroneously listed for a minor renovation on a house in Victoria.

He was so embarrassed by his situation he didn’t tell members of his family until the day before he stepped into the witness box.

“Why have you changed your mind and attitude towards the banks?

“The royal commission was brought about to stamp out irresponsible lending by banks and crippling debt which was putting Australians at risk of bankruptcy, homelessness and suicide.

“If Australia can’t have the support of the Treasurer against misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services, then we, as a democratic nation are in trouble.”

ANZ chief executive Shayne Elliott forgave the debt and apologised to Mr Regan after his appearance in the witness box.

From fined to fine

At the royal commission, roofer David Harris stunned observers as he explained how the Commonwealth Bank kept offering him increases to his credit card limit even after he had explicitly told them he had a gambling problem and did not want more debt.

Last week the bank, Australia’s largest, was fined $150,000 and legal costs for breaching the responsible lending provisions of the Act.

Under the proposed changes, the bank’s actions would be legal.

“These changes will mean the very things the banks are getting pinged for, coming out of the royal commission, would now be legal,” Ms Temple said.

“The Treasurer is setting us up for a household debt crisis, in the middle of a recession.”



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Australia will need economic stimulus for far longer than the treasurer thinks | Greg Jericho | Business


The minutes of the latest Reserve Bank meeting suggest the bank and the government do not agree on when a recovery will be complete and thus for how long fiscal and monetary policy will need to stimulate the economy. It suggests that the RBA realises it will be expected to keep assisting the economy long after the government has decided the more important matter is the size of the budget deficit.

It all depends on full employment. But what is full employment?

It is a pretty disputed term among economists and the public.

The standard definition is the lowest level of unemployment at which inflation growth remains steady – the non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment, or “Nairu”).

It’s a nice little concept but unfortunately it is not a stable rate – and as a result more than a few economists think it is a pretty useless concept.

In 2017, for example, the Reserve Bank estimated the Nairu was around 5%, whereas at the turn of the century it was thought to be around 6%.

What that means is that there may be certain points where inflation starts to accelerate because the labour market is near capacity, but you can’t really target a certain rate with much accuracy.

When we compare the unemployment rate and inflation growth (a thing known as the “Phillips curve”) since the 1990s recession, inflation remained below 3% until the unemployment rate hit around 4.3%:


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But while that might suggest full employment is when we get an unemployment rate of 4.3%, the problem is, from 2016 through to the start of this year, unemployment was able to reach 5% and yet not only was inflation growth not accelerating, it remained below 2%.

That suggests that inflation growth is lower relative to unemployment than it was in the past – which is not surprising, given wages growth has also been much lower than in the past, and wages growth drives prices growth.

What we need also to realise is that the labour force is not just the employed and unemployed but also the underemployed.

When we compare inflation with underutilisation (which is unemployment plus underemployment) we see that the current level is higher than it has been since the 1990s recession, and that we need a rate of around 10.5% before inflationstarts rising:


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But the problem is that in 2007-08, when the underutilisation rate was last under 10.5%, underemployment was only 1.8%pts higher than unemployment – now it is 4.4%pts higher:


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Even before the pandemic, underemployment was 3.5%pts higher than unemployment.

Were that gap to hold, an unemployment rate of 4.3% would see underutilisation still at 12.5% – well above the 10.5% level needed to cause inflation to begin rising.

It means unemployment would need to fall to 3.5% before underutilisation would reach 10.5%.

Why does this matter?

Well, because this week the latest Reserve Bank minutes showed the board discussing whether it needed to lower rates “towards zero”.

And while they decided not to cut rates from 0.25% at this time, they did note that “they would also like to see more than just progress towards full employment before considering an increase in the cash rate, as the board views addressing the high rate of unemployment as an important national priority.”

The phrase “more than just progress towards full employment” suggests a rather lower rate than did the treasurer in September when he stated the government’s recovery plan would “remain in place until the unemployment rate is comfortably back under 6%.”

The government’s budget suggests even by 2023 inflation will be just 2.25% at a time when it estimates unemployment will be 5.5%.

The IMF’s latest projections released last week (which draw on advice from the Treasury) suggest even by 2025 unemployment will be at 5.4% and inflation will be just 2.4% – ie in the bottom half of the RBA’s 2%-3% target range:


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The RBA’s own projections for unemployment and inflation in the most recent Statement on Monetary Policy are for 7% unemployment at the end of 2022 and inflation of just 1.5%.

Neither the budget, the IMF, nor the RBA suggest full employment is anywhere close to happening – not even in the next five years.

And neither do any of them suggest that “comfortably below 6%” is either close or suggestive of being “more than just progress towards full employment.”

It means we have a government already lowering the bar for when it can claim the recovery is largely done and it can start reducing fiscal stimulus, while the Reserve Bank is raising the bar for when it thinks it will need to increase rates and applying the monetary policy breaks.

It also suggests we have a Reserve Bank worrying more about full employment and a government more worried about the budget deficit.



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NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet ‘loves’ plan for 80km shared pathway from Sydney Opera House to Parramatta


The NSW Treasurer “loves” a proposal for an 80-kilometre waterfront footpath that would wrap all the way from the Opera House to Parramatta’s CBD.

Dominic Perrottet today said he received the proposal last week and it had come from Labor-linked think tank the McKell Institute.

But he thought their report was “great” and that it was something the Government should consider funding.

“We haven’t done enough to even connect the eastern harbour to the western harbour, let alone go all the way to Parramatta,” Mr Perrottet said.

“So, I think it’s going to be great for Sydney, it’s going to be great for tourists and locals.”

Mr Perrottet said the proposal would be considered for the upcoming NSW budget.

The McKell Institute report estimated the project would cost between $200 and $300 million.

It flagged potential headaches along sections of the route where owners of waterfront homes might seek to limit access to the public.

The proposed route stretches from Woolloomooloo to Parramatta.(Supplied: McKell Institute)

Mr Perrotett said the coronavirus pandemic had “taught us is to really appreciate the outdoors”.

“I don’t think we do enough here in our state, to open up and make the most of the beautiful harbour that we have.

“So, a pathway from the city to Parramatta I think would be perfect for New South Wales.”

There is about 80km of foreshore stretching from Woolloomooloo to Parramatta but access for pedestrians has only been built along 22km of that waterfront.

Locals throw support behind the plan

A woman wearing a white t-shirt with a Daisy Duck cartoon on it stands with a pram beside a river.
Yuwen Qu regularly exercises along the Parramatta River.(ABC News: James Carmody)

Parramatta local, Yuwen Qu, regularly exercises along the river with her young children and would love to be able to go further along footpaths.

“I think it’s great,” she said.

“And it would be great to bring more people into the area on weekends.”

While Ben Hudson, who was fishing for bream and carp this morning, said it would open up a lot more access to the waterways for recreational fishers.

“It’s a shame the river is that polluted that you can’t really eat any of the fish in it, but for us catch and release fishers it’s still a great fishery,” he said.

“So, that would be awesome, it would just give us more access to the river to fish.”

A number of local businesses in Parramatta were also hopeful the idea would be funded.

Vivian Maglia is the head chef at Port Bar near Parramatta Wharf and said it would bring more groups of cyclists and tourists to the area.

“COVID has affected this business immensely but with the ferry and more cyclists and people coming through of course it would be great for us,” she said.

A man wearing a backwards cap and a hoody stands before a river holding a bicycle.
Santiago Arenas said right now there are too many gaps between bike paths.(ABC News: James Carmody)

While Santiago Arenas, who was promoting his E-Bikes business along the river today, said the path could create many opportunities for him.

“There’s really nice bike paths here, but there’s just too many gaps between them,” he said.

The McKell institute report suggests the path be built in stages beginning with routes along Rozelle Bay and Canada Bay, which would connect existing or already under construction pathways.

A 6.3km stretch would also need to be built to link Homebush Bay to the Parramatta River Walk.

The report estimates between 1,645 and 3,145 jobs might be created if the project goes ahead.



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Victoria’s coronavirus cases rise by four as Premier Daniel Andrews clashes with Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg


Victoria has recorded four new coronavirus cases and one death, as the state’s Premier, Daniel Andrews, continues his spat with the Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg over the schedule for reopening the state.

The new cases bring the rolling 14-day average for Melbourne down to 7.2, while in regional Victoria it remains at 0.5.

The number of “mystery” cases remains at 15.

The latest fatality takes Victoria’s coronavirus death toll to 817 since the pandemic began.

The Premier, Daniel Andrews, has confirmed that the death recorded overnight was that of a man in his 90s, who was in the aged care system.

All four of the new cases are in metropolitan Melbourne, and the Chief Health Officer, Brett Sutton, said one of those cases is someone who had the virus in July, but appears to still have traces of coronavirus in their system.

The other three cases are people from the same household, in the local government area of Hume, in Melbourne’s north.

Andrews accuses Frydenberg of playing politics

Daniel Andrews responded angrily to another intervention by the Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who this morning accused the Premier of a “callous indifference” towards the plight of small business during Victoria’s lockdown.

“It’s all about the politics with this bloke isn’t it? That’s all he does,” Mr Andrews said.

“He is not a leader, he is just a Liberal, because all he does is play politics in the midst of a global pandemic.”

“I haven’t played politics during this crisis, I didn’t play politics during the bushfires and believe me I could have, but I did not, because I don’t believe that is appropriate.”

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Mr Frydenberg’s criticism of the Premier was backed up by the Australian Industry Group, who said it was disappointing that retailers in Melbourne would not be allowed to reopen for another fortnight.

Mr Andrews gave hope that the travel restriction, which was extended from 5 to 25 kilometres overnight, may be lifted entirely in “a couple of weeks”.

“Might even be earlier, depending on whether we can make some announcements this weekend,” he said.

The Premier has confirmed the easing of restrictions on hospitality venues in regional Victoria won’t apply in Shepparton, which is dealing with a handful of coronavirus cases.

The restrictions will remain in place in Shepparton until October 25.

Victoria is still “a long way” from defeating the virus

Speaking before the release of today’s figures, epidemiologist James McCaw from the University of Melbourne warned that Victoria was not out of the woods yet.

“We are still, by and large, fully susceptible to this virus,” he said.

“A vaccine is a long way away, so even with the most compliant population that is doing everything it should, there is still a risk that we will get an outbreak.”

“We have to prepare to be in this for the long haul and we certainly need to live with the virus — no-one can be locked down for years,” Professor McCaw said.

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Beauty salon owner Sandra Vittorio is disappointed she is not allowed to reopen.

Melburnians flock to hairdressing salons and golf courses

Restrictions have now eased in Melbourne and regional Victoria, which means people can now travel further and have greater freedom when it comes to social activities and exercise.

Melburnians now have no time limit on meeting family and friends outdoors, and golf and tennis clubs have reopened.

The 5 kilometre travel restriction was also extended to 25 kilometres, giving people the freedom to travel further out of their suburbs.

Hairdressers can operate again for the first time in months, and South Yarra hairdresser Joey Scandizzo opened his business at midnight.

“The phones have been going crazy so we’ve been trying to get everybody we can in,” he said.

“As soon as the clock struck 12 we were in here, we got them all done.”

A photo of hairdresser Joey Scandizzo cutting the hair of a client
South Yarra hairdresser Joey Scandizzo says customers were lining up waiting for his salon to open at midnight.(ABC News)

Some keen golfers turned up early this morning to a public golf course in Balwyn North only to find that the course did not yet have council approval to reopen.

At Yarra Bend Public Golf Course, Chris Walsh was out on the fairways before 9:00am for his first round of golf in months.

A photo of golfers wearing masks at Yarra Bend golf course.
Golfers returned this morning to Yarra Bend Public Golf Course, in Melbourne’s inner north-east for their first round in months.(ABC News: Dylan Anderson)

Chris says he supports many of the measures introduced by the Premier, Daniel Andrews, to try to suppress the virus, but questions why people weren’t allowed to play golf.

“I just don’t feel it’s been necessary to have us locked down in the way that we have been locked down because the social distancing is so easy for us,” he said.

“We don’t have to be together and be near each other at all, we can still converse from a distance, so I’m not too happy about it.”



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Australian budget 2020: Treasurer forecasts net debt to reach just under $1 trillion – video | Australia news


In his budget speech on Tuesday night, the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, declared that ‘in 2020, Australians had been tested like never before’ before announcing $98bn of spending and business concessions.  

The economic plan will see the deficit reach $213.7bn this year. Net debt is also forecast to peak at a record $966bn or 44% of GDP by June 2024.



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Federal Budget 2020: Treasurer Josh Frydenberg delivers Budget speech


It’s been billed as the most important Budget in decades. Watch live as Josh Frydenberg delivers his critical Budget speech.

In what the Treasurer had hoped to be his “back in black” budget surplus speech, Mr Frydenberg instead announced an eye-watering $213.7 billion deficit and $703 billion debt, with the full effects of the devastating coronavirus pandemic finally laid bare.

“This is a heavy burden, but a necessary one to responsibly deal with the greatest challenge of our time,” he said.

Speaking to parliament on Tuesday night, the Treasurer announced billions of dollars in wage subsidies and stimulus to help the country’s recovery.

“Our economic and fiscal strategy sets out the path to grow the economy, stabilise debt and then reduce it over time,” he said.

The Treasurer said the Government’s budget position would focus on spending to support confidence and jobs until the unemployment rate fell below 6 per cent.

“Once the recovery has taken hold and the unemployment rate is on a clear path back to pre-crisis levels, comfortably below 6 per cent, we will move to the second phase where there is a deliberate shift from providing temporary and targeted support to stabilising gross and net debt as a share of the economy,” he said.

“We will then rebuild our fiscal buffers, so that we can be prepared for the next economic shock.”

Australia’s $703 billion in net debt represents 36 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Debt is expected to peak at $966 billion in 2023-24, a massive 44 per cent of GDP.

The deficit is forecast to fall to $66.9 billion by 2023-24.

“The global economic environment remains uncertain, with the impact of this crisis to be felt for many years to come,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“There is no economic recovery without a jobs recovery. There is no budget recovery without a jobs recovery.”

Mr Frydenberg said every facet of the economy would need support to endure the downturn, with billions pledged for infrastructure upgrades and upskilling workers.

Camera IconThe government has will wage subsidy scheme to promote job growth. Credit: News Regional Media

Among the new measures announced on Tuesday night is a hiring credit scheme, which will encourage businesses to hire younger Australians.

The scheme will provide businesses $200 per week for up to 12 months to hire a new employee under the age of 30. A weekly subsidy of $100 will be provided to businesses that hire a worker aged between 30 and 35.

Treasury forecasts it will support about 450,000 jobs for young people.

Mr Frydenberg said the economic downturn sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic had disproportionately affected female workers, prompting $240 million in funding to get women back into jobs.

The Treasurer has also brought forward planned tax cuts, which will save nearly 7 million Australians about $2000 a year.

“Tax cuts will put more money into the pockets of 11 million hardworking Australians and their families,” he said.

Incentives for businesses to spend will also be increased, with 99 per cent of businesses able to fully write off eligible assets for tax purposes.

“A trucking company will be able to upgrade its fleet, a farmer will be able to purchase a new harvester and a food manufacturing business will be able to expand its production line,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“Every sector of our economy, every corner of our country, will benefit.”

The Treasurer said the Budget measures would help Australia “come back”.

Australia’s circumstances have changed dramatically. But Australians have not,” he said.

“We are hardworking, resilient, resourceful, and compassionate people. Across this country, people are digging deep, banding together, and getting on with it.

“The road to recovery will be hard — but there is hope.

“The Morrison Government’s message to Australians is that we have your back.”

LABOR SAYS BUDGET DOESN’T DO ENOUGH

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers says the Budget will rack up trillion of dollars in debt but does not do enough to create jobs.

“Despite producing a grab-bag of headline-seeking announcements, the Government expects another 160,000 Australians to be added to the jobless queues by Christmas,” Mr Chalmers said in a statement.

Labor criticised the government’s failure to lift the permanent JobSeeker rate above $40 per day, improve access to childcare, promote cleaner energy, or address the crisis in aged care.

“While the average worker will receive a $50 per fortnight tax cut, millions on JobKeeper have seen their payment cut by at least $300 per fortnight,” Mr Chalmers said.

“Decisions taken by the Liberals in this Budget mean that the Morrison Recession will be deeper and longer than necessary.”



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