“We are battling a twin crisis”, said PM Scott Morrison as he addressed the nation today to speak about the continuing coronavirus crisis. “It’s a time for saving lives and livelihoods.”
Morrison said it was time for all Australians to support each other as we fight two fights.
“We are battling on two fronts. We are battling with all the measures we have in place for the virus and we are battling with the economic crisis. Both will take lives and both will take livelihoods.”
Apart from the obvious health impacts of the virus, Morrison said he was deeply concerned with the devastating effect of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy.
“Every day someone is in a job is another day worth fighting for,” he said. “Every day we can get a bit more support to keep businesses running matters. It matters to the person whose job it is, to the person whose business it is, it matters to their family.
“We will not make these decisions lightly or for a matter of convenience. We understand they have very real personal impact for individuals and families at this most difficult of times.”
In regards to increased health measures to stem the growing tide of covid-19 diagnoses, the PM said the greatest concern at present is Australians returning home. The PM praised Australian citizens for committing to self-isolation and social distancing but said those returning from overseas were often falling short.
“Two-thirds of current cases are from an Australian who has come home. Our biggest number of cases relate to this. The risk of those returning from other parts of the world is increasing. Many more will have the virus and more are exposed.”
In light of this, the PM said the government would be strengthening enforcement measures with all returning Australians now facing two-weeks of enforced quarantine at a hotel or accommodation.
“In addition to the arrival declaration – by no later than midnight tomorrow – state and territories will be quarantining all arrivals through our airports in hotels and other accommodation facilities in mandatory self-isolation.”
The PM said the government would be calling in the defence force to assist in supporting the state governments to ensure that those already in self-isolation were being compliant.
“We will be supporting states and territories in enforcing existing isolation arrangements with ADF enforcing compliance checks to ensure we get compliance with self-isolation if people are not compliant a relevant law enforcement agency in that state will enforce the order but ADF will be boots on the ground.”
The PM said these actions are the “most important” that they can take now.
With many expecting the PM to announce further economic measures today, the prime minster teased some details of the third tranche of measures to support the economy through the crisis.
“You can’t run a country without an economy – so we are doing as much as we can to support essential services,” said Morrison.
“We will seek to hibernate Australian businesses.
“The idea is pretty simple: there are businesses that will have to close their doors either ’cause we made it necessary to do so or because there was no business.
“So we want those businesses to open again. We don’t want them saddled by debt liabilities that they will not come out of. We want these businesses to effectively go into hibernation, which means on the other side, the employees come back, the opportunities come back, the economy comes back,”