Australian PM Eyes Employment Bounce-back as Virus Cases Drop

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he is expecting to see a jobs bounce-back in the nation as its worst-hit state for a cautious reopening.

New virus cases in Victoria fell to 14 on Sunday, the state’s health department said on Twitter. That’s the lowest in more than three months. The 14-day rolling average declined to 36.2 in metropolitan Melbourne, comfortably below the 50 level the local administration has set as the benchmark for a slight easing of restrictions on Sept. 28.

The better virus numbers, combined with surprisingly strong recent jobs data, are a boon for the government as it gears up for a crucial Budget next month.

With the country in its first recession in almost three decades and interest rates already at a record low, the government must weigh the need for further stimulus while also trying to wean the nation off emergency wage-support packages.

“There will be hundreds of thousands of more jobs come back in between now and Christmas,” Morrison told the ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday. “Victoria will bounce back and that will add to the level of jobs growth.”

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The Budget will include “a range of measures,” Morrison said, while refusing to be drawn on specifics. His administration’s signature JobKeeper wage-subsidy program is due to end next year and rates of payment will be cut from this month.

“You don’t have to hold on to every measure forever,” Morrison said. “There are other measures that come in and pick up from where others left off.”

The Sydney Morning Herald reported Sunday that the administration is preparing an “astounding” injection of money into the economy, citing senior government members it didn’t identify.

One possibility is that already-scheduled income tax cuts will be brought forward. Such a move could spur households to part with some of their recently built-up savings and boost consumption, Commonwealth Bank of Australia said in a research note Friday.

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