Scott Morrison has warned that further restrictions to contain an outbreak of COVID-19 in Australia will not be good for the economy or jobs.
The Prime Minister met with state chiefs on Monday to get Australia’s derailed vaccination program back on track while exploring ways to open international borders, albeit later.
“We cannot move forward here… we have to be very clear that the pandemic is raging globally,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Sydney.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned of greater risks to the economy and jobs if more Covid lockdowns are imposed (Pictured: people in Melbourne during the peak of the pandemic in July 2020)
Prime Ministers and Mr Morrison met to discuss opening international borders as further lockdowns could pose risks to the economy and jobs (Pictured: people arriving in Brisbane from Sydney in December)
“If there are more lockdowns… because of the introduction of COVID in Australia then that’s not good for the economy, it’s not going to be good for jobs.”
What’s been positive for jobs is Australia’s booming housing market, helped by the government’s HomeBuilder program, record-low interest rates, changing population dynamics and rising market confidence.
The Housing Industry Association said new home sales in the first three months of the year were nearly 40 percent higher than in the same period last year.
Launched in the depths of the pandemic, the HomeBuilder program was extended through March late last year, though the grant size was cut from $25,000 to $15,000.
The Morrison government has extended the deadline for construction to begin under the HomeBuilder grant program by an additional 12 months
“December 2020 saw a near-record volume of new home sales as households rushed to secure contracts to build a new home before the (HomeBuilder) $25,000 grant expired,” said HIA economist Angela Lillicrap.
“The same effect can be seen in March as households rushed to access the $15,000 grant.”
The HomeBuilder program ended last month, but over the weekend the government extended the deadline for construction to start by a further 12 months.
Those who were eligible for the grant before the March 31 closing – around 121,000 building applications, the government said – now have 18 months after the contract was signed to start construction.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the program cost the government $2.5 billion but helped inject some $30 billion into Australia’s construction sector amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ryan Felsman, senior economist at Commonwealth Securities, said the extension will be a welcome boost for craftsmen and construction workers as supply constraints and labor shortages could hamper the sector’s momentum.
Separately, new research shows that the afterpay revolution brought billions of dollars in benefits to the economy during last year’s recession, boosted job growth and helped consumers ditch expensive credit cards.
The Morrison government estimates that 121,000 applications have already been made for the HomeBuilder scheme in Australia (pictured Footscray in Melbourne, with the CBD in the distance).
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (pictured above) said the government has pumped around $30 billion into Australia’s construction sector amid the Covid-19 pandemic
It means the great Australian dream of home ownership remains a reality for many (luxury homes pictured in Point Piper, Sydney).
Accenture’s study of the Buy Now Pay Later service provider found that afterpay usage generated $3 billion in net profits during the pandemic.
Retailers and SMBs enjoyed $6 billion in additional sales, including $510 million for regional retailers.
Accenture chief executive Andrew Charlton said the afterpay revolution is a win for consumers and merchants.
“For consumers, Afterpay offers the ability to budget and simplify shopping without paying interest and credit card fees,” he said.
Afterpay (pictured) brought billions of dollars in benefits to the economy during last year’s recession, boosted job growth and helped consumers ditch expensive credit cards
“For retailers and small businesses, Afterpay has been an invaluable sales channel during the pandemic, allowing them to connect with internet-savvy, price-conscious consumers.”
The study estimates that Afterpay users save $110 million compared to what they would have paid for the same credit card purchases.
The report also calculated that Afterpay spending helped support 63,000 jobs, including 11,000 jobs employed directly by merchants in the retail business
A further 33,000 jobs were indirectly promoted in areas such as logistics, advertising and market research.