(Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

NEXT UP, RETAILER RELIEF

Scott Morrison will consider another stimulus package at this morning’s national cabinet meeting that would underwrite retail and small business commercial rents, rates, taxes and utility bills, The Australian ($) reports.

This follows the announced temporary closures of all shops under Premier Investments (Dotti, Jay Jays and Peter Alexander) — which, as The Age reports, refused to pay rent anyway — and Accent Group (The Athlete’s Foot, Platypus and Hype).

Residential rents will also be discussed, the ABC reports, and would follow state measures such as Tasmania’s rent moratorium or Western Australia’s utility freeze.

PS: NSW and Victoria will push for stronger “third-stage” lockdowns that would require all non-essential workers to stay home, The Oz ($) reports.

PPS: NSW will then outline a second stimulus package, in addition to last week’s $2.3 billion scheme, which the ABC reports will include $750 million largely in tax relief for businesses.

UN: “WE ARE AT WAR WITH A VIRUS — AND NOT WINNING”

G20 leaders wrapped up an emergency virtual summit last night, The Age reports, where, amid global cases in excess of 500,000, mass shutdowns and economic collapse, UN secretary-general António Guterres said “we are at war with a virus — and not winning”.

While the 20 countries are collectively injecting more than $7.9 trillion into the global economy, and agreed “global action, solidarity and international cooperation” is now needed more than ever, Guterres also called for countries to ramp up systematic testing, tracing, quarantining and treatment, and further coordinate exit strategies until a vaccine becomes available in 12–18 months.

WHAT OF OZ? Morrison went into the meeting calling for increased funding for vaccine research and for medical supply chains to remain open, The Guardian reports.

WHAT $2 TRILLION GETS YOU

Yesterday, the US Senate voted unanimously for America’s historic US$2 trillion stimulus package — with the House of Representatives set to pass it Friday morning.

According to CNN, this is what it includes.

  • Payments of US$1,200 to single Americans, US$2,400 for married couples and US$500 to parents for each child under age 17 — to be phased out for people with a gross income of US$75,000 or more.
  • Suspension of student loan payments through to September 30.
  • Unemployment payments of an extra US$600 a week for four months covering the unemployed, partially unemployed, and those unable to work due to the virus.
    • Note that an amendment from four Republican senators to cut benefits for poorer workers failed to pass after presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders threatened to delay the entire package if the amendment succeeded, CNBC reports.
  • A US$500 billion lending program at the Treasury Department — which allocates US$25 billion for passenger air carriers, US$4 billion for cargo air carriers, US$17 billion for national security businesses, and the remaining US$454 billion to businesses, states and municipalities.
  • The Defense Department’s National Guard response has been allocated US$1.2 billion, with over 10,000 National Guard members to date activated, and an additional US$1 billion is available for Defense Purchases Act purchases, but no money can be allocated to the counter-drug account that has been used to fund Trump’s border wall.
  • A further US$32 billion in grants for wages and benefits to the airline industry.
  • Protections against foreclosures and evictions.
  • And finally, US$450 million for The Emergency Food Assistance Program, which supplies food banks.

IN RELATED NEWS: Those unemployment payments won’t come a second too soon, with CNN reporting claims at the Department of Labor jumped to 3.28 million in the week ending March 21 (for context, a prior spike in 2009 saw 665,000 claims).

LNP PUSH TO SHUT OFF FNQ

Finally, as Queensland begins to police border quarantine rules, four LNP politicians — George Christensen, Philip Thompson, Michelle Landry and Matt Canavan — have written to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk asking her to consider “shutting North Queensland’s borders” with the standard exceptions for essential services.

While their phrasing is odd in that North Queensland does not actually have borders, the request to isolate regions within states is perfectly in keeping with existing recommendations. As NT News reports ($), more than 1400 remote Territory residents returned to country before the federal 14-day self-isolation rule kicks off today for remote communities.

THEY REALLY SAID THAT?

A guy eats a bat in Wuhan and now my two sons are without jobs.

The lesson is: when humans lose their mastery and control over the animal world, which is what happened in Wuhan wet market, our entire civilisation can suffer.

Mark Latham

On top of crying out for his large, adult sons, the One Nation politician calls for humans to develop a mastery of animals above simply caging and eating them.

CRIKEY RECAP

Modelling shows we need a total lockdown now — but it only needs to last a month 

“A draft report by adjunct professor Michael Mike Georgeff, a mathematician and leading Australian expert on artificial intelligence and health technology, shows we need to go hard now, placing 20 million Australians into lockdown by April 7 to keep coronavirus cases under 200,000.”


Inside Scott Morrison’s very corporate COVID-19 commission

“At a meeting held, refreshingly, at midday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled his new National Covid-19 Coordination Commission, an additional body whose job, the prime minister said, was ‘quite simply, to solve problems’.”


Governments must take over vacant housing for homeless and domestic violence victims

“Now, as renters have started to organise unilateral payment suspensions, governments like Tasmania’s Liberal (insert today’s premier here) government have organised rent moratoriums to get ahead of the process.

“That is happening all over the joint, as the centre-left shows itself to be so timid in calling for anything resembling radical measures that they are repeatedly gazumped by the right.”

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Trump administration indicts Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for ‘narco-terrorism’

NSW Port Authority warned in January of ‘gaping hole’ in coronavirus biosecurity checks

21st birthday party guests infected with COVID-19 after case linked to Aspen ski trip

Coronavirus crisis: MS Artania cruise ship passengers to fly home via Perth Airport after docking in Fremantle

SA schools extend Easter holiday for students so teachers can learn how to work in the future ($)

DFAT warns ambassador after police report a failure to self-isolate

Evacuation hope for tourists trapped in Peru, with $5000 flight on Sunday

Coronavirus: medical association warns Australia must protect medical supplies amid reports of stockpiling by China-backed firm in February

‘People shouldn’t come’: Great Ocean Road towns look to stop visitors

THE COMMENTARIAT

This would be a lot easier if the Liberals hadn’t buggered up the NBNKevin Rudd (Junkee):Abbott hated the NBN, deriding it as a ‘video entertainment system’ and promising to ‘demolish’ it. The NBN also threatened the Foxtel business owned by his media benefactor, Rupert Murdoch, because broadband would give a platform to his major competitor Netflix.”

Let’s never have so many eggs in the China basket ($) — Maurice Newman (The Australian): “How hollow now are the words of [World Economic Forum] founder Klaus Schwab, who used the forum to praise China for ‘playing a responsive and responsible role’ in international affairs. The same for World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom, who applauded China’s work in containing the virus and for its transparency. Adhanom blatantly ignored the eight Wuhan doctors who, on January 3, were forced to confess to spreading false rumours when they were trying to alert the public to the danger.”

Teachers aren’t front-line responders – we’re collateral damageAnonymous (The Age): “I’m a teacher. Currently, the media talks about us as part of the front-line response team. I don’t really agree that we’re in the same category as the medical profession, who actually trained and signed up to work with sick people or soldiers who signed up to protect. I see us more as collateral damage. We are here as the powers-that-be think that by maintaining normalcy for children, it will calm the panic.”

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