Tuesday, 17 March 2020

ACT welcomes economic response to COVID-19


ACT Leader David Seymour has welcomed the Government’s support for businesses, workers and the health system.

“Given the Government’s decision to require travellers to self-isolate, and the inevitability of a recession, it was critical that the Government step in to provide wage subsidies and other support to preserve jobs and keep businesses afloat”, says Mr Seymour.

“Our health system must have capacity to respond to a global public health emergency, so it is positive to see a significant injection into healthcare at this time.

“It is puzzling, however, that the Government is continuing next month’s minimum wage increase while giving wage subsidies to business. Government should first do no harm, and this Government should stop increasing costs on businesses before giving them more money to meet those costs.

“More generally, the Government could have gone further on tax and regulatory relief than it has. As ACT suggested this morning, it could have put a moratorium on new regulations for 12 months.

“It is also disappointing that the Government is making permanent changes to welfare while the COVID-19 crisis is upon us. ACT believes that a crisis should not be a time that permanent changes are made.

“It may be important to boost benefits as a form of stimulus during a crisis, but the crisis does not justify permanent benefit increases. Increasing benefit levels and spending an extra $2.4 billion over the next four years will eventually require higher taxes to pay for it.

“As I said this morning, COVID-19 shouldn’t be used as an excuse to permanently expand the size and scope of government. But that is exactly what is happening.

“We accept that government expenditure will rise during this crisis, but it must return to pre-crisis levels as soon as possible.”