Aussie businesses get $4.5b earlier than expected
The government has already paid out more than $4.5 billion to businesses hit by the coronavirus shutdowns, a week earlier than predicted.
But the Treasury boss says the size and speed of the economic shock the virus means some jobs and businesses will be lost permanently.
"We have never seen an economic shock of this speed, magnitude and shape, reflecting that this is both a significant supply and demand shock," Steven Kennedy told a Senate committee examining the response to COVID-19 on Tuesday.
"Unemployment rose to higher levels in the Great Depression but it did that over the course of a couple of years. These movements are happening in just a couple of months."
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann will deliver updated economic statements when parliament resumes on May 12.
Dr Kennedy said Treasury would provide a further updated economic statement in June.
"The next couple of weeks will be very important as we become clearer about the pattern of social distancing measures and how they unfold," he said.
"I know you're all very enthusiastic for us to provide those numbers but frankly, the department's been at a reasonable clip just trying to keep the place going with these packages."
Deputy secretary Meghan Quinn said lifting restrictions on domestic travel could provide as much as a 7.5 per cent boost to the economy - as long as people had to confidence to go back to normal life.
"You still have to have confidence in terms of consumer confidence and business confidence to carry on activities once the restrictions are lifted," she told the committee.
Asked whether payments could have been delivered to businesses and workers faster, Dr Kennedy said he had been incredibly impressed with how speedily the tax office and Services Australia had moved.
"Making literally billions of dollars of payments within four weeks of their announcements - which I appreciate is of no comfort to the broader community that's been hit by these shutdowns - I would actually regard as a rapid payment of money," he said.
The tax office originally said it could start sending the $32 billion cashflow support payments to small and medium businesses from April 28, but actually started delivering those last week.
It has paid out more than $4.5 billion.
Since Monday, 540,000 businesses covering 3.3 million employees have formally applied for the JobKeeper wage subsidy.
Initial payments from that $130 billion scheme will be received by employers in coming days.
Officials said the ATO was devoting significant resources to making sure there was no fraud or rorting of the scheme.
There have also been 757,000 applications for early access to superannuation approved, with a total of $6.3 billion paid out.
© AAP 2020