The Northern Territory Government has today released the COVID-19 Financial Report.
Following the Commonwealth’s economic update, the COVID-19 Financial Report shows the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the budget position, including the Territory Government’s measures to save lives and save jobs during this pandemic.
The Report shows the Territory economy and budget was on track with an improvement of $150 million to the Territory’s projected net debt level and a $79 million improvement on the deficit level when compared with the 2019/20 Mid-Year report.
The steep decline in Australia’s GST pool is by far the biggest contributor to the updated budget position, with $649 million reduced from the Territory’s revenue base over two years ($41m for 2019/20 and $608m for 2020/21).
The cumulative reduction in estimated GST revenue since the 2015/16 Territory Budget now amounts to $3.1 billion.
The second biggest contributor is the Territory Government’s actions to save local jobs through the worst global economic crisis in 100 years – with more than $382 million being invested in job-creating stimulus and business support measures.
This revised figure takes into account a lower than expected loss in revenue due to swift economic action, as well as new stimulus measures to save more jobs.
The full impact of the coronavirus crisis means:
· Fiscal deficit for 2020/21 is expected to be $1.28 billion more than previously forecasted in the 2019/20 Mid-Year Report.
· Net debt for 2020/21 is expected to be $1.35 billion more than previously forecasted in the 2019/20 Mid-Year Report.
Saving lives and saving jobs will continue to remain the Territory Government’s top priorities as we continue to tackle this unprecedented crisis. To do this, the Government in investing an additional $42 million in job-saving stimulus measures:
$20 million for the Small Business Rebound and Adaption Grant
· A new grant up to $10,000 when matched dollar-for-dollar to support small businesses to rebound and adapt to the economic impact of COVID-19. Grants open 1 September.
$10 million Territory Tourism Voucher Scheme
· Two new rounds of the Territory Tourism Voucher Scheme. A $5 million injection into the voucher scheme on 1 November to help get tourism companies through the low season and another $5 million injection on 1 February to get them to the high season. The voucher will be doubled to $400 for Territorians whose booking is more than 500kms away from their home.
$10 million Immediate Work Grants Scheme
· A second round of Immediate Works Grants for incorporated not-for-profit and community organisations – including clubs – to undertake repairs, renovations and upgrades to their premises/facilities. Grants will be issued to applicants who missed out on the first round. Grants open 1 September.
$2 million My Territory Local Business Voucher Scheme
· A second round of local business-boosting voucher scheme to commence on 1 September. Local Governments who signed up to the original scheme will get an instant $50,000 top-up from the Territory Government. A third round will commence in October to help businesses through the low period.
Jobs Hub Platform
· Continuation of the Jobs Hub Platform which has helped more than 160 businesses connect with job-seekers and more than 2350 Territorians connect with a job opportunity. The platform will be continued until 1 February 2021.
These measures are on top of:
· the freeze to all government fees and charges, including electricity and water until July 2021 – and will now be reviewed every budget;
· the fast-tracking of the Territory Assessment Framework to cut red tape and get contracts approved faster; and
· the continuation of a range of business hardship relief incentives until 1 July 2021.
To view the Coronavirus Financial Report click here.
Quotes from Chief Minister Michael Gunner:
“We are all in the same boat here. Just like the Feds, we are copping a big whack. It’s grim, but the alternative is unimaginable. Lost lives and more lost jobs is not an outcome I will ever accept.
“Saving lives and jobs isn’t free, it costs money. We have thrown the kitchen sink at protecting Territorians and I make no apologies for that.
The Government can afford take the hit right now. We can recover down the track, when we are through this crisis. It’s better that we take this hit than a business hit the wall or a worker hit the dole queue.
“Territorians need jobs, not cuts. Cuts right now would kill our economy and only cause further pain to Territorians. Territorians cannot afford to go back to cuts.”
Quotes from Treasurer Nicole Manison:
“Prior to COVID-19 hitting our budget repair work was underway and our economy was beginning to turn.
“We said COVID-19 will hurt our budget, and it has. Today’s update incorporates the Commonwealth advice on reductions to the national GST collection. This means that the Territory has now seen around $3.1 billion of estimated GST revenue cut from our budget since 2015/16. But I’d rather our budget take the hit, than see another Territorian lose their job.
“Our plan going forward remains the same. We will return to our stable and steady path of budget repair – yes it will take time, but it will mean we can continue to support Territorians with jobs.
“The CLP’s and Terry’s Alliance slash and burn approach will cripple our economy and cause immense pain to Territorians. We cannot afford to go back to the cuts of the CLP and Terry Mills.”
Media Contact - Hannah Farmer - 0428 497 154