Wed, 16 Jun 2021

Australian budget to secure pandemic recovery: PM

12 May 2021, 19:55 GMT+10

CANBERRA, May 12 (Xinhua) -- Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Wednesday the federal budget for 2021-22 will secure pandemic recovery and protect lives.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg handed down the budget on Tuesday night, revealing an improved economic outlook for Australia and announcing tens of billions of dollars in new spending to create jobs and fast-track Australia's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Morrison said the budget, which could be this government's last with a general election due by mid-2022, would "secure" Australia's recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

"This is all about ensuring that we come through the worst pandemic we've seen in 100 years and that recovery cannot be taken for granted," he told Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) television on Wednesday.

"That is about securing jobs, protecting lives, about protecting livelihoods."

The centerpiece of the budget is 17.7 billion Australian dollars (13.8 billion U.S. dollars) for the aged care sector after the landmark Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety unearthed years of neglect and abuse.

The budget was welcomed by some business groups but has been criticized for the lack of funding for a dedicated quarantine facility for international arrivals to Australia.

Victoria, Australia's second-most populous state, had asked for 200 million Australian dollars (156.15 million U.S. dollars) in funding to build a purpose-built quarantine facility to help repatriate more Australian residents and citizens stranded overseas amid the pandemic.

Morrison on Wednesday said the government was still considering Victoria's "very good proposal" but that quarantine was "one of many links in the chain" in preventing COVID-19 outbreaks.

Opposition Labor Party leader Anthony Albanese, who will deliver his budget reply speech, said on Wednesday there was nothing to show in the budget for the record level of debt incurred.

According to projections included in the budget, Australia's net debt will reach 980.6 billion Australian dollars (766.3 billion U.S. dollars), 40.9 percent of gross domestic product, at the end of 2024-25.

"There will be low wages. There is nothing there to grow productivity. There is nothing there to advance new industries. There is nothing there to build back stronger," Albanese told Seven Network television.

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