Initial responses to government’s $17.6bn stimulus package

by Madison Utley13 Mar 2020

Yesterday, the federal government announced a $17.6bn stimulus package to “protect the economy by maintaining confidence, supporting investment and keeping people in jobs” as the impact of COVID-19 is beginning to be felt across Australia.

However, even as the unease continues to mount, Australian Banking Association (ABA) CEO Anna Bligh, has assured that Australian banks are “well prepared” for the challenges presented by COVID-19 and are at the ready to provide support.

“Australia’s banks are strong, stable and open for business, including for any company wanting to take advantage of initiatives in the government’s stimulus package such as the increase to the threshold of the instant asset write off from $30,000 to $150,000,” she said.

“We continue to stress any business or individual financially impacted by COVID-19 should contact their bank who, on a case by case basis, can provide a wide range of assistance.”

NAB CEO Ross McEwan expressed a similarly high level of confidence.

“NAB kept lending through the GFC, and we will do the same now,” he said.

“Banks are well placed to support the Australian community through this unprecedented situation. We encourage small businesses doing it tough to contact their banker to discuss what we can do to help them through – including things like deferral, extension or restructuring of loans.”

The Housing Industry Association (HIA) has also welcomed the stimulus, saying that strong action is necessary to ensure the housing market doesn’t begin to backslide.

“The residential building industry has contracted by around 20% from its peak during the May 2018 quarter and most indicators showed an improvement in conditions in the second half of 2019,” said  HIA chief economist, Tim Reardon. 

“Australia is emerging from a residential building downturn and, in the face of constraints on trade and tourism, stability and clear direction to ensure the housing market does not take a backwards step is essential. 

“The measures announced today will assist in stimulating household demand and prevent a further slowdown in building activity.”