Australian PM Announces Second Phase of COVID-19 Recovery Plan

April 20, 2021 Updated: April 20, 2021

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced the second phase of the COVID‑19 Economic Recovery Plan, part of the upcoming 2021-2022 treasurer’s budget.

In an address to the Business Council of Australia on April 19, Morrison said that the budget would build on the foundations of last year’s economic recovery plan—a plan that saw $98 billion (US$76 billion) in COVID-19 response measures and unemployment fall to 5.6 percent—lower than pre-pandemic levels. At the same time, the economy has recovered 85 percent of its COVID-induced losses.

Morrison said that the new plan would prioritise aspects that stimulate business-led economic growth, placing businesses and the private sector at the forefront of a strong economic recovery.

“(It’s) a plan that retains a clear focus on lower taxes, competitive policy settings for Australian industry, sensible industrial relations settings, deregulation, open trade, open markets,” Morrison said.

Morrison also announced a $120 million deregulation package, emphasising that deregulation was a “pillar” of the recovery plan, taking unnecessary burdens off businesses and employers.

Centrelink
People queue up outside a Centrelink office in Melbourne, Australia, for welfare payments on April 20, 2020. (WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

In particular, Morrison said that the pre-existing “depressing level of regulation” prevents businesses from employing more Australians and that these obstacles need to be removed to allow for businesses and the economy to grow.

The reduction in regulatory compliance costs under the package is also estimated to save businesses on average $430 million annually.

Part of reducing the burden involves streamlining the reporting process under the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Scheme, which could also reduce time spent preparing reports by up to 70 percent. It will also benefit an estimated 900 companies each year.

The prime minister also flagged reducing the regulatory burden on digital services in the health sector, helping reduce the cost for around 400 companies.

Morrison said that these steps, along with other measures, act in tandem to support businesses and promote economic growth.

“These are granular things, but they make a big difference to the operations of businesses which means you can invest more confidently and you can employ more confidently,” he said.

AAP contributed to this report.