The first pandemic in 100 years has thrown a spanner in the works of landmark events across numerous industries.
Federal politics has not been immune from this with the Federal Budget, the biggest event in Canberra each year other than an election, having been delayed from its traditional May timeslot. In a little over a month’s time, Josh Frydenberg will hand down a budget that 12 months ago he wouldn’t have even contemplated to be possible.
Following the introduction of various stimulus measures to prevent the economy from grinding to a complete halt, it is expected that he will unveil Australia’s biggest deficit since World War 2 at around $184 billion. While Australians face the prospect of spending decades paying off the national debt which is tipped to reach $850 billion.
The major challenge for all governments across the world with COVID-19 has been to balance the health and economic challenges posed by the virus. Measures that help to fix one invariably risk damaging the other. In the absence of a vaccine, the ongoing battle will be finding a way that limits the number of cases while keeping the economy as open as possible.
Moreover, this pandemic will continue to test the very structure of Australia’s governance - a federation of states with a commonwealth government. State governments have responsibility for things such as the borders and hospitals, while the Commonwealth is charged with footing the bill for just about all stimulus measures. Expect to see a continued tension between these two layers of governance moving forward, with the Federal Government urging state governments to open up their respective economies, and Premiers asking Canberra to fund any further lockdowns.