THE Commonwealth government has announced a $17.6bn economic stimulus package in an effort to mitigate the impact of coronavirus.

Under the plan, the government is expected to put $11bn into the economy between now and July, welfare recipients are to get $750, and tax breaks are to be offered to small businesses

However the spending is set to delay plans to get the federal budget back into surplus.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the package would provide an immediate stimulus.

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“The biggest beneficiaries of that will be pensioners,” Mr Morrison was quoted as saying by the ABC.

“They comprise around half of those who will receive those payments, but they also will be extended to those in family tax benefits, which obviously goes to those in earning households.”

Mr Morrison also said casual workers who contracted COVID-19, or had to isolate themselves, would be eligible for a Newstart welfare payment while out of work.

Australian Logistics Council CEO Kirk Coningham said the economic stimulus measures were welcome, but must be matched by other practical actions.

“Many aspects of the federal government’s stimulus package will be welcomed in the logistics sector, in particular the extension of the instant asset write-off which can be used by businesses to modernise equipment and vehicles, delivering a range of safety and productivity benefits,” Mr Coningham said.

“However, economic stimulus measures need to be matched by a commitment to additional practical actions in order to meet some of the supply chain challenges that the COIVD-19 situation is presenting.”

Mr Coningham said one of the biggest challenges to keeping supermarkets and other retail stores stocked was the ability to physically get goods to consumers.

“The Australian community needs reassurance about the availability of essential day-to-day items, and the best way to provide that reassurance is to make certain products are available when consumers need them,” he said.

“Industry’s efforts to do that are being hampered by the operation of curfews on delivery vehicles imposed by local governments. These curfews prohibit deliveries between certain hours overnight and are preventing stock being available on shelves for consumers.

“Industry needs immediate practical support to address this situation, given the extraordinary challenge being faced. Economic stimulus is important – but we also urgently need an injection of common sense around some of the planning and enforcement provisions imposed on freight movement throughout the supply chain.”

Victorian Transport Association CEO Peter Anderson said the package would help the transport sector even as it experienced short-term declines due to a reduction in demand from China.

“We are seeing signs of recovery from China however, and transport operators should have every confidence that demand for consumer goods, building, construction and other raw materials will be sustained by measures outlined in the Commonwealth stimulus package to keep the economy ticking over,” Mr Anderson said.

“I urge any transport operator experiencing hardship to contact to take advantage of support that is now available, and to contact the VTA or their state-based transport association for guidance and assistance during this challenging time.”

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO James Pearson welcomed the package.

“With many businesses and communities still recovering from bushfires and our nation confronting coronavirus, the government needs to limit the economic damage while supporting productivity and the economy longer term,” Mr Pearson said.

“As an initial response to COVID-19, the economy needs temporary, well-targeted measures to stimulate new spending quickly so that businesses don’t have to cut back production or lay off workers due to weak demand.”

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