Second virus wave would cost $25 billion

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is using the enormous economic cost of a second wave of coronavirus to persuade protesters not to hold another series of anti-racism rallies.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development predicts Australia’s economic output could contract by 6.3 per cent this year if there’s another wave of COVID-19.

“That’s a $25 billion cost to the Australian economy,” Mr Morrison told 3AW radio on Thursday. 

“People wanting to take (protests) further this weekend are showing a great disrespect to their fellow Australian.”

One protester at last weekend’s Melbourne rally has tested positive for the coronavirus. They developed symptoms 24 hours after marching.

It could be another week before authorities know whether other protesters have caught the virus from them.

The OECD says the federal government should consider what economic support might be needed once existing measures end in September.

It suggests strengthening the social safety net and investing in social housing.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese says Australia needs a transition plan, rather than relying on the government’s prediction of an economic “snapback”.

“Snapback runs the risk of really restricting the growth in the economy and having a severe impact,” he said.

“The OECD has warned that early withdrawal of economic support runs a severe risk of having a negative impact on the economy, on employment and on living standards in Australia.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the OECD report paints a pretty grim picture for the global economy.

“This report does signal the economic challenges that Australia and the world face,” he said.

“But as we have success on the health front, we are starting to ease the restrictions, and it’s critically important that we maintain that momentum, that we lift those restrictions on the domestic borders. Closed borders cost jobs.”

The head of Australia’s corporate watchdog has warned some businesses could still go under when the economy hits the so-called financial cliff in September.

Some people could also lose their homes as the first recession in nearly 30 years takes its toll.

Australian Securities and Investment Commission chairman James Shipton says while the financial system is preparing for any eventuality as the country works through the coronavirus pandemic, there will be casualties.

“The reality is that some Australians are going to be caught on the wrong side of this,” Mr Shipton told ABC radio.

“Economic recessions, economic troubles have consequences and that is a sad reality, a tragic reality.”

The Morrison government’s JobKeeper and pumped up JobSeeker schemes are due to end in September while loan payment holidays introduced by the major banks will also cease.

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