23/03/20 The Federal Parliament has rushed through $84 billion in financial support for workers, students and businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak, before wrapping up for a five-month-long break.
A bare minimum of MPs and Senators came to Canberra for a single day to vote on legislation for the Government’s two rounds of stimulus measures.
The bills were passed late Monday night without objection in both the House of Representatives and the Senate after some amendments were made.
“The measures that have been passed by the Parliament today represent the most significant support for the Australian economy and community since the war,” said Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
It also includes a raft of other measures to support the economy more broadly, as well as giving the Government flexibility to respond to changing circumstances without needing further legislation.
Under pressure from Labor and the Greens, the Coalition amended its own legislation to give the social services minister the power to make changes to the stimulus payments, including rates, means testing, eligibility and residency requirements.
The Government will immediately use those powers to extend the $550 coronavirus supplement to students receiving Youth Allowance, Austudy and Abstudy payments.
Other than the income test, “there are really very few other requirements” students will have to meet to get support, said Social Services Minister Anne Ruston.
The Government estimates up to 236,000 students could benefit from the change.
Changes to the Government’s stimulus package include:
Extending the $550 per fornight coronavirus payment to students
New powers to increase or expand payments as needed, including for pensioners, those on disability support payments and carers, jobseekers and people who fall through the cracks
Making it easier for people who lose their job to get support by relaxing the test on their partner’s income