Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for South Australia
Date: Wednesday, 28 July 2021
David Koch: The latest Treasury estimates show New South Wales alone is losing around 180 million dollars every day. The current restrictions remain in place. And while the lockdowns have lifted in Victoria and South Australia this morning, they came at a combined cost of at least one hundred and thirty million dollars. It's a big blow, joining us now Finance Minister Simon Birmingham. Good morning, to you Minister. Business Council of Australia says if Sydney's lockdown goes on much longer. It'll wipe out all of the economic gains made last year. It's expected to continue for at least a month. Are we going to go into another recession, do you reckon?
Simon Birmingham: Kochie, we'll be working very hard to avoid that, we know these are tough times for Sydney businesses, for Sydney households and for many people across Sydney. Now, right now we have economic support to the tune of around five hundred million dollars per week flowing into New South Wales to help households, individuals and businesses. And over the last few days, we've been having cabinet level discussions knowing that this decision was likely to have to be made by the New South Wales government to extend the lockdown, to think about how we can ensure the right assistance continues to help support Sydney and New South Wales through this to make sure the lockdown is a success when it comes to suppressing COVID that we help households and businesses and that our economy is in the strongest possible position to come back once again.
David Koch: New South Wales Treasurer wants JobKeeper brought back in for New South Wales businesses affected by this lockdown. The union's support him also, particularly the retail sector. Are you going to bring it back in?
Simon Birmingham: Jobkeeper worked effectively as a nationwide scheme, but what we've got here is a particular state in a particular city that needs assistance. And so the new COVID disaster payment that we put in place is able to be tailored and targeted to the specific region in place. Victorian Labor Premier Dan Andrews likened it to being the new incarnation of JobKeeper, it's now helping hundreds of thousands of people across Sydney. It is able to be targeted, but it also has a broader reach. It is available to, for example, casual employees who may not have been permanent casuals. So that provides a real lift in terms of the reach of people who are eligible. And I think is actually proving to be a more adaptable and effective support for the long term in these targeted lockdowns.
David Koch: Just quickly, why hasn't the government approved rapid testing kits available for the public or employers to constantly monitor COVID within their staff and their communities? Every other country does.
Simon Birmingham: So there are some tests that have regulatory approval. I've noted that there are a number of discussions now, particularly in New South Wales, about using these tests in certain environments more often. They are certainly tests and pilots or rollout of these tests that we would welcome. They shouldn't replace the more highly effective PCR testing that provides a greater level of certainty as to whether or not somebody has COVID. But they can be used as a supplement in certain environments and that would be decisions for individual businesses, schools or the like.
David Koch: Okay, alright Minister appreciate your time. Thank you.
Simon Birmingham: Thanks Kochie.
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Authorised by Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, South Australia.