Financial support continues in wake of coronavirus pandemic

As Treasurer Josh Frydenberg puts the final touches on his mid-year budget review, his ministerial colleagues have pre-empted its release this week, announcing several pandemic initiatives.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack is extending over the Christmas and the summer holiday period certain support measures in the aviation sector that were introduced during the pandemic.

Mr McCormack, who is also transport minister, said with state borders now reopening, the government wants to ensure air operators have all the support they need.

The government is extending its domestic aviation network support program for a further eight weeks until March 28, 2021, part of more than $1.2 billion of assistance that was made available during the pandemic.

“The government is focused on keeping Australians connected and facilitating freight movements as aviation emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr McCormack said on Monday.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor also announced an $83.5 million package to assist oil refineries as part of Australia’s long-term fuel security.

“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to place immense pressure on our refineries and the many Australians employed in the fuel sector,” Mr Taylor said in a statement.

The support to start on January 1, 2021 will provide a minimum one cent payment for each litre of primary transport fuel – petrol, diesel and jet fuel – from the major domestic refineries who continue operations in Australia.

At the same time, more than 300 small businesses will get a helping hand with their energy costs as they recover from the pandemic.

Under the Morrison government’s energy efficient communities program, 336 small businesses have been awarded grants of up to $20,000 to lower their energy bills by upgrading to more energy efficient equipment.

“Small businesses have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and the government is focused on helping them through this difficult period, and beyond,” Mr Taylor said.

Meanwhile, Victoria reached 44 days without local COVID-19 transmission on Sunday.

But it did record one new case in its revamped hotel quarantine system, the sixth reported since the Victorian government restarted the program last week.

Likewise, NSW recorded a ninth straight day without a local COVID-19 case, but found three cases in returned travellers in hotel quarantine.

NSW removed the final restrictions for South Australians entering the state, and is now to all people in Australia and New Zealand.

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