Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned the road to economic recovery will be a long one. Image by Dean Lewins/AAP PHOTOS

politics

Long economic road to recovery after virus

2020-04-03 13:18:50

Banking and government leaders are warning the economy will not be the same after the devastating impact of coronavirus.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there were no “magic numbers” around the spread of the virus that would trigger getting the economy back on its feet.

“On the other side of this there’s a long road back to recovery,” he told 2GB radio on Friday.

“I’m trying to get Australia in the best possible place when we start that process.”

The government has announced $320 billion in stimulus measures, with $130 billion for six months of wage subsidies at the heart of the package.

Westpac was initially forecasting a deep recession with 17 per cent unemployment, before the economic rescue efforts were unveiled.

After the government’s stimulus measures, the bank is now predicting a peak unemployment rate of nine per cent falling to seven per cent by the end of the year.

“It’s a situation the economy can work through,” Westpac chief executive Peter King told ABC radio.

Mr King said preparing the economy for a quick restart was crucial.

“What we know from previous periods of disruption like this is the economy never comes back in exactly the same shape,” he said.

“Consumers and businesses change their behaviour. Some businesses adapt, some won’t.”

Westpac has had over 100,000 applications for home loan assistance, as well as 26,000 requests for help from small businesses.

It is also working with large companies individually.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the government’s stimulus measures, which include doubling the unemployment benefit, were temporary.

“It’s not baked into our budget projections over the medium term,” he told Sky News.

Senator Cormann said a significant economic bounce back was expected after the pandemic.

He refused to speculate on Australia further lifting its debt ceiling, which was raised to $850 billion last month.

“We’re going to be in deficit for at least the next few years,” Senator Cormann said.

“Clearly there’s going to be a delay in the trajectory getting back to zero government net debt.”

The finance minister also ruled out making any changes to GST or franking credits.

“Whatever way you want to describe it, we’re not going to start pushing for increased taxes,” he said.