Tuesday, March 17, 2020

A good first step

Today the government announced a financial package to deal with the effects of the pandemic. So far, it looks good: an initial $500 million for health to deal with immediate priorities, wage subsidies for affected businesses, $585 a week from WINZ for people self-isolating who can't work from home, and a $25 / week increase in benefits. It looks good: it will hopefully help the tourism and hospitality industry to keep people employed rather than laying them off, while the benefit increase will see more money flowing into the economy. Most of it is short-term, meaning there will be more coming if the situation continues (as is likely), but the benefit increase is long-term, a permanent and welcome step up (though still nowhere near what is needed to restore benefits to pre-1990 levels). It is in short a good first step. Because the pandemics are not short-term events, more is likely to be needed. But the government has said clearly that its there and its going to help us get through this - that it is going to do its job for once, rather than abandoning us while bailing out the rich.