Back to work: Staggering cost of shutdown revealed



TREASURER Josh Frydenberg will today reveal $4 billion is siphoned from the economy for every week that current ­restrictions remain, as leaders prepare to discuss a trans-Tasman "bubble" allowing ­travel between Australia and New Zealand.

NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will dial in to the meeting between state and territory leaders today, and said a range of matters would be discussed, including travel between the countries.

It is likely both countries will need to have a tracing app.

More than 4.5 million ­people have downloaded the Morrison Government's COVID-Safe tracing app, but there will be a renewed push to encourage more Australians to download it.

Mr Frydenberg is set to ­outline a push to get the economy moving, with concerns tough restrictions could entrench social disadvantage and unemployment.

"We must get people back into jobs and back into work,'' Mr Frydenberg will tell the National Press Club today.

"For every extra week the current restrictions remain in place, Treasury estimates that we will see close to a $4 billion reduction in economic activity from a combination of reduced workforce participation, productivity and consumption.

"This is equivalent to what around four million Australians on the median wage would earn in a week.

"History shows that the longer people are unemployed, the harder it is to get a job.

"In the early 1990s, unemployment increased by 5 per cent over three years, but took seven years to get back to its pre-crisis level."

In further good news, Industry Minister Karen Andrews said the CSIRO was testing two vaccines.



Ms Andrews said it was "entirely possible that by the end of this year or early next year, we will have a vaccine for COVID-19".

"That's particularly important because, quite frankly, until such time as we have a vaccine, life is not going to return to normal,'' Ms Andrews said.

"Over the next few months in particular, we will look at how that vaccine will be rolled out," she said.

Meanwhile, when asked whether Victoria was pursuing a strategy of suppression or elimination of COVID-19, ­Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said yesterday that was "a decision for ­National Cabinet".

"My understanding is we're on a suppression strategy nationally, but elimination is still in scope, and if we happen to have a happy accident of elimination, then we'll be able to have that as an ongoing strategy," Professor Sutton said.

"There are differences. Suppression means that there'll be some low-level transmission across the country.

"Elimination means that you need an absolute assurance of no transmission ­whatsoever, and it also requires that you don't have any importation of any single case ongoing.

"That's a really significant constraint, and it means that you have to have a different approach to borders, but it's not my call, it's the National Cabinet."






Originally published as Back to work: Staggering cost of shutdown revealed

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