On 23 July 2020, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg released the Economic and Fiscal Update July 2020, outlining the key COVID-19 policy response measures announced by the Government since March 2020. The Treasurer said the Government has provided economic support for workers, households and businesses of around $289 billion (14.6% of gross domestic product) in response to the pandemic.
The economic update incorporated the extension of JobKeeper payments for six months beyond its legislated finish date of 27 September 2020. The total cost of the extended JobKeeper regime is now estimated to be $85.7 billion over 2019–2020 and 2020–2021.
While the update did not include any major new financial support measure announcements, it brought information about a range of other changes, including that:
- the Government will extend the application period to 31 December 2020 for the early release of superannuation (tax-free) by those dealing with adverse economic effects of COVID-19;
- the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees (SAT) wage subsidy will be extended for a further six months to 31 March 2021, and expanded to include medium-sized businesses;
- a full income tax exemption will be provided for Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel deployed on Operation Orenda as part of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali;
- the start date for the 2015–2016 Budget measure to allow the ATO to pay lost and unclaimed superannuation amounts directly to New Zealand KiwiSaver accounts has been revised; and
- the start date of the proposal to prevent super funds from transferring new amounts to eligible rollover funds will be deferred by 12 months.
The Economic and Fiscal Update was never meant to be a “mini budget”, and the Federal Budget will be handed down on 6 October 2020. Mr Frydenberg has previously indicated that the Government is looking at the timing of the legislated personal income tax cuts and may consider bringing them forward as part of the Budget in October.