People queue outside the Centrelink office in Southport on the Gold Coast (Image: AAP/Dan Peled)

Yesterday's images of long lines of jobless people snaking out of Centrelink offices -- exacerbated by a truly unforgivable IT stuff-up -- might be just a taste of the economic chaos to come, unless the government goes all out and produces an economic survival package designed to keep businesses employing workers over the next few months.

The government's graduated approach, both on the health and economic fronts, has been justifiable until now. The two stimulus packages haven't been enough, but when seen as components of an escalating response they were valid.

But two things are now clear. First: the continuing spread of the virus makes some form of lockdown, which will simply shutter whole sections of the economy, inevitable. This will compound the already massive economic damage -- 800,000 people in the food and beverage service sector now face unemployment.