Sunday, January 16

Australia to spend more on jobs in budget based on COVID-19 vaccine

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MELBOURNE — The Australian government said on Sunday it will earmark an additional A$1.2 billion ($859 million) in wage subsidies in the 2020/21 budget and that its frameworks assume that there will be a novel coronavirus vaccine next year.

In the run up to the Oct. 6 budget, which is set to forecast a record deficit of about A$200 billion, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said a vaccine was a factor in his fiscal considerations.

“The budget takes into account the possibility that is the case,” Frydenberg said when asked in a Sky News television interview whether the budget would be based on an assumption that a vaccine would be ready.

“We have worked hard with international counterparts to secure the vaccine for Australia.”

Australia’s A$2 trillion economy suffered its deepest slump on record in the June quarter as coronavirus curbs crippled business activity, and the government has sought to soften the blow this year with A$314 billion of fiscal stimulus.

The government plans to roll out a coronavirus vaccine cost-free to citizens, expecting its first batches possibly in January.

Earlier on Sunday, the government said the budget would include a wage subsidy aimed at creating up to 100,000 apprenticeships.