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- Australia in recession
- Zoos remain closed
- No new SA cases
- Universities quantify ongoing revenue hit
Australia is now in a recession: Treasurer
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has confirmed Australia is now in a recession as the economy reels from the coronavirus pandemic.
Frydenberg’s confirmation came after the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported the economy shrank by 0.3 per cent in the March quarter, on the back of the bushfires, drought and coronavirus pandemic.
Asked whether the country was now in recession, he said: “Well, the answer to that is ‘yes’. And that is on the basis of the advice that I have from the Treasury department about where the June quarter is expected to be.”
The GDP figures have exposed the damage caused by the summer bushfires and the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.
Growth for the year has slowed to 1.4 per cent.
That’s the slowest annual growth rate since September 2008, when Australia was in the midst of the global financial crisis.
The economic decline is only going to get worse, with most of the pain packed into the current quarter.
Read the full story here.
Zoos remain closed
The Adelaide and Monarto zoos will remain closed because of the coronavirus for potentially another month with officials describing a proposal to limit visitors as unworkable.
In a statement on Tuesday, zoo officials said the two facilities will likely remain closed until early July when the next round of virus restrictions are due to be lifted.
“We do not believe the suggested cap on numbers or the use of a timeslot system at Adelaide Zoo, which would see groups permitted entry at various times of the day, will be workable, safe or fair to our visitors,” they said.
“Our concerns would be that such limited numbers throughout the day would cause difficulty in managing bottlenecks at our entrances and that a time limit would impinge greatly on visitors’ enjoyment.
“It is also not financially viable for us as the costs incurred in opening would not allow us to offset our expenditure.”
With the doors to remain closed, the zoo said it was for the emergency funding from the state government to ensure critical animal care is maintained.
“We remain hopeful that South Australia’s recovery from the pandemic will continue in its positive manner and that we will see the fast-tracking of restrictions which will see us open sooner rather than later,” officials said.
Other public institutions are planning to open soon, with the National Motor Museum re-opening this morning at 10am with capacity limits and new hygiene regimes.
No new infections
SA Health again reported no new COVID-19 infections on Wednesday.
SA has had 440 confirmed cases so far but only one is considered active.
The state’s strong performance has prompted the government to consider targeting more international students who might be drawn to a safe place to study.
International students already bring more money into SA than the state’s wheat, barley or wine exports.
“There’s been a kick in the guts since COVID-19 came but we need to recover and do that in a way that’s not going to damage the health safety and welfare of South Australians,” Premier Steven Marshall said.
“But next year this could be an opportunity (and) we could become a more attractive place for international students to study.”
COVID-19 to cost universities for years
Australia’s universities are flagging the ongoing impact of COVID-19 pandemic could cost them billions in revenue over the next four years.
The higher education sector has been hit hard by a drop off in international students as the pandemic led to border closures.
The federal government’s early move to stop people coming from China was especially damaging, with that country the largest source of international students to Australia.
New modelling by Universities Australia, released on Wednesday, predicts the sector could lose $16 billion in revenue between now and 2023.
“We can’t pretend that won’t have a big impact,” UA chief executive Catriona Jackson said in a statement.
“Not only does that revenue support the staff and facilities to educate the next generation of skilled workers, it also pays for much of the research and innovation that keeps Australia internationally competitive.”
Jackson said independent estimates show that between $3.3 billion and $3.5 billion annually of the research and development functions of universities could be at risk.
“The danger is that if universities are unable to continue funding this activity, Australia’s ability to innovate its way out of the COVID-19 recession will be severely hampered.”
The national cabinet’s guidelines for lifting restrictions say international students may be able to return once the nation reaches the third stage, anticipated in July.
OFFICIAL SOURCES OF ADVICE AND INFORMATION
Local updates and resources
State Government central information
Mental health support line (8am to 8pm): 1800 632 753.
National advice and information
Australian Government Coronavirus information hotline: 1800 020 080
Government information via WhatsApp: click here
Australian Government travel advice: smartraveller.gov.au
Check your symptoms
Free, government-funded, health advice: healthdirect.gov.au
– Reporting by InDaily staff, AAP and Reuters
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