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Govt expects to wind back pandemic support payments by end of year

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Federal Finance Minister and South Australian Senator Simon Birmingham says he expects the need for federal COVID-19 support payments to be wound back by the end of the year once virus-affected states ease their restrictions.

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“As we hope to reach at the end of the year the states, particularly NSW and Victoria, coming out of lockdown, then the need for that type of support diminishes,” he told Sky News.

“We need to ensure we continue to deliver an economic plan for growth to get back on a more stable footing.”

It comes as Victoria is set to outline the path out of lockdown next week, following virus modelling from the Burnet Institute.

ACT’s Chief Minister Andrew Barr will outline today the territory’s gradual reopening plan, with Canberra now in its fifth week of lockdown.

However, Yass Valley Council in southern New South Wales has this morning re-entered lockdown after a new COVID case was detected in the area, just days after the local government area relaxed its restrictions.

Over two million people across Australia have received a federal government COVID-19 disaster payment since the start of the pandemic, totalling $7.18 billion.

During South Australia’s July lockdown, 86,000 people received at least one COVID disaster payment, totalling $48.2 million.

The South Australian Government and the Commonwealth yesterday announced two new jointly-funded grant programs: the COVID-19 Tourism and Hospitality Support Grant and the COVID-19 Business Hardship Grant.

But Business SA policy and advocacy director Andrew McKenna said the group would “continue to advocate for more, because more is going to be needed until the state borders reopen”.

“In absence of more substantial financial support, Business SA foreshadows that job losses and business failures may soon become apparent,” he said.

“These industries need both support and certainty and want to see more precise forward projections on estimated timelines for when we will reach vaccine milestones and State border reopenings.”

-with AAP

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