‘Worst ever’: Dire cost of COVID revealed

 

Australia is set to brace its first recession in more than three decades, with figures expected to reveal the worst economic contraction since the Second World War.

National account estimates for the June quarter are scheduled to drop midmorning are tipped to reveal the financial wounds inflicted upon the economy because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is expected to confirm Australia's "technical recession" in Canberra on Wednesday, with the figures likely to show a significant drop in gross domestic product, investment and consumption.

Economists are expecting a drop in GDP anywhere between 5 and 7 per cent.

In the March quarter, Australia's gross domestic product had fallen 0.3 per cent, which showcased the initial inflictions caused by the shutdown.

Mr Frydenberg has previously said Australia's numbers would not be as bad as other countries, telling parliament on Tuesday it indicated the "remarkable resilience of the [Australian] economy."

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann told Today that economies around the world have been hit very hard by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are in a much better position than many other countries all around the world," he said.

"The UK in the June quarter experienced a contraction of 20 per cent in the one quarter.

"Across other … countries it is 10 per cent on average."

Senator Cormann said Australia had been heading in the right direction in June and early July.

But the outbreak in Victoria did set the nation back and had a "severe negative impact" on the economy in the September quarter.

 

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is expected to confirm Australia’s “technical recession” in Canberra on Wednesday Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is expected to confirm Australia’s “technical recession” in Canberra on Wednesday Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Geraghty

 

Opposition treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers on Wednesday said it was going to be "a dark day".

"This will be the worst quarterly GDP since these records were first kept," he told ABC RN.

"We are in the midst of a deep recession."

Mr Chalmers again criticised the Morrison Government for not having a jobs plan despite the nation being in a jobs crisis.

He said telling unemployed Australians that the circumstances weren't as bad as other countries was "meaningless".

Mr Chalmers called on the government to reconsider the reduction in the JobKeeper rate saying there were some measures the government had done right but "not everything".

Federal Treasury is understood to be waiting for Victorian premier Daniel Andrews to reveal his road map out of lockdown, before announcing an economic recovery plan.

Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip in his monthly monetary statement on Tuesday, said Victoria's stage four lockdowns would have a profound effect on the state's regional economy.

The RBA is expecting the downturn sparked by the pandemic will cause unemployment to peak at 10 per cent.

The Morrison government has already extended JobKeeper and JobSeeker payment until March next year due to the prolonged slump induced by COVID-19.

Legislation splitting JobKeeper into two tiers and extending the wage subsidy scheme for an additional six months has already passed in parliament.

The $1500 flat fortnightly rate will end later this month. After that, people who worked less than 20 hours a week before the pandemic will be paid $750 a fortnight, and those who were working more than that will receive $1200.

Mr Frydenberg previously noted states and territories need to be more flexible around border arrangements.

But Mr Chalmers has backed Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk's decision to keep the borders closed.



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