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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald

Australia's September recovery in doubt as Victorian COVID cases spike

The end of the wage stimulus programs are in sight just as COVID resurfaces.

NOT unexpectedly, Victoria's coronavirus clusters have led to a second round of border closures, and further interstate consternation, just as Canberra is deciding the shape of its COVID welfare packages once JobKeeper and JobSeeker run their six-month courses in September.

The Australian Industry Group and other business lobbies are pushing against the Victorian government's six-week lockdown of Melbourne and other policies introduced to keep this second spike of infections at bay.

But we are again in a situation where public health must ultimately take precedence in decision-making.


As most of us realise, Australia has escaped the worst of the pandemic, so far.

That's partly because of a health system we can be proud of, but mostly because international travel restrictions and our geographical isolation have meant very few new arrivals from COVID-crippled countries entering our communities undetected.

Using the same logic, the best way to stop Victoria's 100 new cases a day from spreading nationally, and rising rapidly, is to ensure those with the virus are properly isolated, and hopefully without the breaches of quarantine that may have driven the spike in the spike in the first place.

RISING STEPS OR A PLATEAU?: Daily Australian cases from the James Hopkins Universities dashboard on Thursday.

Nobody underestimates the impact that lockdowns and restrictions have on those the people and businesses that must somehow weather a storm of seemingly endless duration.

In this region alone, as we report today, the federal opposition estimates JobKeeper is putting $100 million a fortnight into the Hunter economy, propping up some 65,000 people working for more than 17,500 businesses.

The longer the Victorian spike continues, the more likely we will find ourselves back in lockdown, but this time with officials taking a harder line on those who breach the limits on movement.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is set to announce the government's post-September welfare plans in a fortnight.

The markets took the original $130 billion estimate for JobKeeper in their stride, as they did the revelation that the real cost would be more like $70 billion.

This should make it politically easier for the government to continue spending, probably with a tighter set of eligibility criteria than was applied in necessary haste the first time around.

In the meantime, all eyes are on Victoria.

ISSUE: 39,656.

GLOBAL CONSEQUENCES: 12 million cases and 550,000 deaths from COVID-19.
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