/ 29 July 2021

Counting the cost of lockdown

It was confirmed yesterday that Greater Sydney and surrounding regions will stay locked down until 28 August as another 177 local coronavirus cases were added to the state’s tally – the biggest daily increase of the outbreak. Some new terms and conditions apply to the extension, and 8 local government areas (where most new cases continue to come from) have stricter rules to follow. Australia’s most populous city has been out of action for a month already, and in Victoria, there are more than 19,000 people in isolation as close contacts of cases during the state’s recent flare-up. And so minds have turned to our finances.

No. But what PM Scott Morrison revealed yesterday was an increase to the COVID-19 Disaster Payment. Workers who lose hours because of a lockdown will soon be eligible for $750/week from the Federal Government if they lose 20 hours or more of work. That’s up from $600. And people who lose between 8 and 20 hours will receive a payment of $450 per week, up from $375. The window for financial support for eligible businesses will also be extended and boosted. All up, individuals and businesses in NSW will receive $1 billion a week from state and federal governments. Morrison says the approach is more targeted than Jobkeeper, and he encouraged Sydney to “hunker down and push through.” But NSW Labor leader Chris Minns said there is “no excuse for entering into a longer lockdown without JobKeeper.”

Insert shrugging lady emoji… But the events of the last month and what’s yet to come are going to hurt. When we’re past all this, we’ll be like, “remember July 2021 when half the country was in lockdown? That was massive…” And with Greater Sydney locked down for another month, it’s worth remembering that it accounts for 25% of the nation’s economy. That’s why economists say we’re heading towards a 2nd recession. And chew on this for a sec: the recent Intergenerational Report said it would take the Federal Government (aka taxpayers…) more than 40 years to pay for COVID-related financial assistance from 2020 and the start of this year. This latest chapter will add more years to that estimate. The kids of today had better get good jobs when they grow up…

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