Monday, 23 March 2020
Questions without Notice
I thank the member for Longman for his question and his support for the government's efforts to ensure that Australians can remain in a job and businesses can remain in business. Our stimulus package No. 1 and our second package, which is designed to cushion the blow and enhance the safety net, involve measures that are targeted, temporary and scalable and that use, as the Prime Minister said, our existing tax and transfer system. I want to put on the record my appreciation for the Department of the Treasury and the secretary, for their close help and outstanding work, and of course for the Department of Finance, in preparing this package. Treasury and Finance have done a wonderful job.
We have focused on supporting small and medium-sized businesses to keep people employed. Three out of every four dollars that we spent in the first stimulus package were designed to support small business. Among the numerous important measures that we have announced are measures like expanding and extending the instant asset write-off and accelerated depreciation. In terms of the instant asset write-off, we have taken it from companies who have a turnover of up to $50 million and extended it to those with a turnover of up to $500 million. We have taken it from purchases of $30,000 and extended it to purchases of $150,000. When it comes to the 50 per cent accelerated depreciation, we have also extended it to companies with a turnover of up to $500 million, and out to June 2021. Other initiatives include a 50 per cent wage subsidy for employers who have apprentices. There are 117,000 apprentices. Whether carpenters, plumbers, mechanics or hairdressers, it will be easier for people who are employing these apprentices to keep them on in work, despite the difficult times, because of the wage subsidy. Our other support through the tax system, providing cash flow support, is critical for 690,000 small and medium-sized businesses and 30,000 not-for-profits. This is a $32 billion measure that we have announced, from a minimum of $20,000 up to a maximum of $100,000 cash payments to small and medium-sized businesses. We have worked with the banks to ensure that there are no interest payments or principal payments for small business on loans for six month. That will be an important lifeline, as will the fact that we're co-guaranteeing, with the banks and other lenders, loans of up to $250,000 for three years, with no payments in the first six months. That is extremely important, as are the regulatory changes around insolvency and bankruptcy laws to ensure that businesses can trade through this difficult time. We are standing with small and medium-sized business operators and all their employees through this very difficult time.