PM points to 'titanic' effort for economy

There'll be some very heavy lifting in the budget, Scott Morrison says.
There'll be some very heavy lifting in the budget, Scott Morrison says.

As Victoria's coronavirus case average declines, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has foreshadowed an historic budget next month to get the nation back on track.

The 2020/21 budget, to be delivered on October 6, will be the "most unprecedented investment in Australia's future", the PM told reporters in Adelaide on Saturday.

"It will be a titanic effort that we're involved in to ensure that this country can get back on the growth path that we want to be on," he said.

"That means we're going to have to do some very heavy lifting in this budget and that comes at a significant cost."

Those out of work were hit with a cut to their dole on Friday as the JobSeeker supplement was reduced from $550 a fortnight to $250.

From Monday, the JobKeeper rate will also decrease and be split into two tiers for full-time and part-time workers.

The full rate will go from $1500 to $1200 a fortnight, while people who worked less than 20 hours a week pre-pandemic will receive just $750.

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said the cuts would strip $680 million a fortnight out of the economy just when it is needed.

"It makes absolutely no sense for the government to be cutting support to workers, communities, businesses and local economies when the economy is still as weak as it is today," he said.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg again hinted on Friday the government was looking at some form of extra support for the unemployed, above that which applied before the pandemic struck. However, the decision would not be made until later in the year.

National economic recovery relies heavily on Victoria continuing to squash the virus.

On that, there is good progress, with the two-week rolling daily case average of 23.6, which is ahead of expectations.

The Victorian premier was grilled by reporters on Saturday following the resignation of his health minister Jenny Mikakos, and was asked if he too should resign.

Daniel Andrews said he doesn't run from challenges and was intent on the biggest repair and rebuilding agenda his state had seen.

Ms Mikakos quit a day after Mr Andrews partially blamed her for hotel quarantine failures at an inquiry into the bungled scheme.

The new health minister is Martin Foley, who has experience with the state's health department through his mental health portfolio.

The state recorded 12 new cases on Saturday along with one death, pushing the national toll to 870.

Melburnians are expecting some aspects of normal life to return from Monday, as the path out of restrictions stipulates the reopening of childcare, limited outdoor social gatherings and a partial re-opening of schools.

Mr Andrews has suggested further restrictions may be eased earlier than planned next month.

The state's second wave has been traced to two Melbourne hotels, with the outbreaks linked to 782 deaths.

NSW recorded one new case on Saturday, while Queensland recorded three new from international arrivals.

Western Australia announced on Saturday seven new cases linked to crew on board bulk carrier Patricia Oldendorff, anchored off Port Hedland.

It set sail from the Philippines earlier this month.

Two of the positive cases were detected on Friday and are in hotel quarantine in Port Hedland but the latest seven remain on the ship.

Australian Associated Press