Prime Minister Scott Morrison has flagged a new scheme to allow businesses to “hibernate” and reopen once the COVID-19 pandemic has passed.
Mr Morrison says a third stimulus package, to be announced in coming days, would contain measures to ensure businesses can re-open down the track, kick starting the economy.
LIVE UPDATES: PM announces new COVID-19 measures
“The thing about an economy is your society does depend on it and so do governments,” Mr Morrison said.
“You can’t run a country without an economy. We are doing everything we can to ensure we maintain as much of that economy as we can through this crisis, to support all of the essential services that are so necessary at a time like this.
“Part of that plan that we’ll be announcing will be to seek to hibernate Australian businesses. This will be a very innovative approach, in the circumstances we find ourselves in.”
Mr Morrison acknowledged huge numbers of businesses have been forced to close down because of the decisions of recent weeks, but says the plan will ensure they won’t accrue crippling debts during the shutdown.
“The idea is pretty simple. There are businesses that will have to close their doors, they will have to keep them closed, either because we have made it necessary for them to do so, or simply there is just not the business to keep their doors open,” he said.
“We want those businesses to start again. And we do not want, over the course of the next six months or as long as it takes, for those businesses to be so saddled by debt, so saddled by rental payments, so saddled by other liabilities that they will not be able to start again on the other side.
“We want these businesses to effectively go into a hibernation, which means on the other side, the employees come back, the opportunities come back, the economy comes back.
“This will underpin our strategy as we go to the third tranche of our economic plan, and that will include support by states and territories on managing the very difficult issue of commercial tenancies and also dealing ultimately with residential tenancies as well.”
Mr Morrison said all Australians will have to share the pain.
“There will be a burden for everyone to share, and that will include the business as well,” he said.
“The intent is as far as possible to ensure that a business that through no fault of its own, we are simply trying to preserve and support them in the best way we possibly can.
“We want Australia to rise again on the other side of this and to go forward strongly.”
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