Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared the CCP virus to be a threat to Australia’s sovereignty and assured Australians that the nation will “never surrender” to the pandemic.
“When Australian lives and livelihoods are threatened, when they are under attack, our nation’s sovereignty is put at risk, and we must respond.
“So make no mistake, today is not about ideologies. We checked those at the door,” he said.
Restriction and shutdown measures across Australia’s states and territories have seen a decrease in new cases—indicating a flattening of the curve—however, Australians have been urged to continue adhering to social distancing measures.
“We have a long way to go. Through the actions we have taken to date, we have bought Australia valuable time to chart a way out over the next six months. But there are no guarantees, and it could well take far longer,” Morrison said.
Health and Economic ImpactsMorrison outlined two crises the nation will face during the pandemic—one health and one economic.
To prepare the health system for COVID-19 cases, ICU capacity has tripled, retired healthcare workers are encouraged to return to work, and up to 20,000 nurses will be trained online to provide high dependancy and intensive care.
Morrison added that over 30,000 hospital beds and 105,000 skilled workers across 657 private and not-for-profit hospitals will be mobilised.
Non-elective surgeries are suspended, but those needing to see their doctors will still be able to. Ensuring adequate supplies of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) such as masks will also be prioritised.
Morrison also announced the $130 billion JobKeeper package, which will “provide payments of $1,500 per fortnight to an estimated 6 million eligible workers through their employer.”
More than 200,000 additional JobSeeker claims have been finalised over the past few weeks, and 700,000 businesses have registered for the package.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese raised concerns over casual workers who have been with their employers for less than a year or workers here on temporary visas who are not covered under the scheme.
“This fails to recognise that in the modern workforce, many workers defined as casual, but who have been stood down, have expectations and financial commitments based upon that regular work and income that they do,” Albanese said.
Despite resisting calls to include more than 2 million workers left out under the scheme including local council employees, Morrison said the government had responded with the “biggest economic lifeline” in Australia’s history.
“It will be a fight. It will be a fight we will win. But it won’t be a fight without cost, or without loss.
“Protecting our sovereignty has always come at a great cost, regardless of what form that threat takes. And today will be no different.
“Our sovereignty is demonstrated by the quality of life we afford Australians, with world class health, education, disability, aged care, and a social safety net that guarantees the essentials that Australians rely on.”
On April 8 evening, the Morrison government’s $130 billion wage subsidy package passed both houses of Parliament with Labor support.