More SA govt support to save local jobs

Kathryn Bermingham and Tim Dornin
SA Premier Steven Marshall has announced another $650m to tackle job losses amid COVID-19

A $650 million stimulus package including support for businesses and funds for community groups and sporting clubs has been unveiled by the South Australian government amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The package takes total state government support to $1 billion and comes as SA records its biggest daily jump in confirmed cases.

Premier Steven Marshall said $250 million would be allocated to help community groups and not-for-profit organisations, with money also for retaining workers.

The government has also allocated $300 million to help businesses and industry sectors facing collapse.

"We know South Australians are hurting and we are taking action," Mr Marshall said.

"This is, without question, the greatest economic emergency of our generation and our collective response must be equally as potent.

"We recognise the enormous economic challenges confronting our key industries, their employers and staff as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the necessary restrictions imposed to limit its spread."

The government's package also includes big cuts to payroll tax offering businesses about $60 million in savings, while some land tax payments will be deferred.

Households receiving Centrelink assistance will get a one-off $500 payment.

Treasurer Rob Lucas said it was impossible to put a figure on the extent of likely job losses and the government could not save every job.

But he said the government's support for businesses and jobs was unprecedented.

The number of coronavirus cases in South Australia rose by 38 to 235 on Thursday, with 19 of the new cases linked to the Ruby Princess cruise ship.

Chief public health officer Nicola Spurrier said there were a total of 60 cases in the state that could be traced to cruises.

"Most of our cases have had international travel, particularly on those cruise liners," she said.

Professor Spurrier said the latest cases were in patients aged from 10 to their mid-70s, and none were believed to be cases of community transmission.

She said a third person - a 50-year-old man - is being treated in intensive care, in addition to the two other men, aged 68 and 76, announced on Wednesday.

Also on Thursday, the government said SA schools would effectively begin holidays next week with four pupil-free days ahead of the Easter break.

Education Minister John Gardner said the change would assist the state's educators to plan and prepare for the transition to flexible learning in term two.

"With the increasing number of children absent from our schools, our teachers need this time to prepare for the difficult challenge of meeting the needs of learners who are at home," Mr Gardner said.