A station worker wearing a face mask walks past a billboard displaying advisories after New South Wales began shutting down non-essential businesses and moving toward harsh penalties to enforce self-isolation as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) reached a "critical stage" in Sydney, Australia, March 24, 2020. (Photo: Agencies)
The Australian government has announced a six-month wage subsidy package to support the economy amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, taking the total value of economic stimulus measures beyond 200 billion Australian dollars ($123.2 billion).
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg unveiled the 130 billion Australian dollars ($80 billion) package on Monday, describing it as "unprecedented action."
The package entitles full-time, part-time and casual employees who have had their work affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to the 1,500 Australian dollars ($924.1) fortnight "job keeper payment."
Morrison said he expected as many as 6 million Australians to access the payment, saying the supporting measures can help them "get to the other side of this coronavirus crisis."
The payment will be made to employers by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) who will then be legally obligated to pass it on in full to employees.
New Zealanders with 444 visas, which enable them to live, study and work in Australia indefinitely, will be eligible for the subsidy.
The Australian parliament, which was suspended for six months after voting to legislate the first two stimulus packages, will briefly reconvene to vote on the subsidy.