Labor wants parliament recalled to fast-track virus stimulus
THE $17.6 billion coronavirus stimulus package will be fast-tracked, Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said, while also calling for parliament to be brought back early to get it through.
He also said urgent decisions need to be made up sporting events and other mass gatherings, while he criticised the Morrison Government for taking too long to start its public awareness campaign around the pandemic, which has gripped Australia in recent weeks.
Mr Albanese, speaking in Brisbane this morning, said he had written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison asking for parliament to be brought back on Tuesday, almost a week earlier than scheduled.
"Labor will expedite any passage of legislation through both Houses of Parliament and there won't be any procedural issues raised by us," he said.
But he said the stimulus would not be given a free pass, with Labor wanting to examine provisions around casual sick pay and the $1 billion fund for industries and regions hardest hit by the virus.
"We want to be constructive. We want to examine measures such as issues regarding the casual workforce and whether further measures can be given to provide support there and for low-income earners," he said.
Opposition treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers said the government needed to be prepared to do more stimulus if the first injection did not have the desired impact.
"It remains to be seen whether what the government is proposing is big enough or will be deployed quickly enough to prevent job losses, to prevent business closures, and to prevent a deeper downturn in the economy," he said.
Following the Grand Prix being made a "spectator free" event, Mr Albanese said the organisers of major sporting events needed to make quick calls about whether they would proceed.
"There is no doubt that major events that are held have serious implications in a health environment like this," he said.
"Organisers of major events need to seek urgent medical advice on the best way of protecting the community, including whether the event should be postponed or made spectator-free."
But the Opposition leader said the government had been too slow to act in creating a public health awareness campaign.
"Public information helps create public confidence. That is why it is a good thing to be transparent about both the health aspects," he said.
"Quite clearly the response that we've seen from members of the public, over toilet paper and other issues, shows people are anxious.
"It shows people are concerned. They are not quite sure what to do in response to these issues."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is meeting with state premiers this morning, with health and economic response to the coronavirus top of the agenda.
He said as of this morning there was not medical advice for football matches to be cancelled.
"If people have been in contact with someone who's been in an affected area or you know, you're in the middle of having a test and you're self isolating, fair enough - you shouldn't go to the footy on Saturday," Mr Morrison told 2GB this morning.
"But otherwise, I think it's important for our economy and just our general wellbeing, that people sort of get on about their lives, you know, keep calm and carry on is the saying."