This year will be the toughest that many Australians have faced, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told Parliament on Monday morning, invoking "the spirit of the Anzacs, of our Great Depression generation, of those who built the Snowy, of those who won the great peace of the Second World War" to get through.
Mr Morrison said he had been giving his "prayer knees" a work out praying for the nation as churches, mosques and other places of worship close their doors on Monday, banned from operating under the new shutdown.
"While you may not be able to go to church, the synagogue, the temple or the mosque, I most certainly call on all people of faith for you to pray," Mr Morrison said opening the parliamentary sitting. "I can assure you, my prayer knees are getting a good work out."
"Together, and with the rest of the world we face this unprecedented challenge - a once in a 100-year event, a global health pandemic that has fast become an economic crisis, the like of which we have not seen since the great depression," he said.
"Life is changing in Australia, for every Australian. And life is going to continue to change. For many, young and old, 2020 will be the toughest year of our lives."
Mr Morrison was speaking as queues grew outside Centrelink offices around the country including in Canberra, with people in restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs, movies theatres and other venues, gyms and indoor sports venues now out of work. All of those venues were ordered closed by midday on Monday, although for restaurants and cafes takeaway and home delivery is still allowed. The government has effectively doubled the dole to $1150 a fortnight.
Mr Morrison said the measures were likely to be in place for months, with the coronavirus expected to circulate for six months or longer.
"There is no three or four week shutdown that makes it all goes away. No short term solution to all of this," he said.
"We have to steel ourselves for the next six months and work together to slow the spread in order to save lives. To protect the elderly and vulnerable Australians. They are counting on us. Every extra bit of time we save allows us to better prepare for the challenges that are ahead."
The coronavirus was wreaking economic havoc, he said.
"Across Australia today, many thousands of Australians will lose their jobs. They are lining up at Centrelink offices as we speak - something unimaginable at this scale, only weeks ago. They have lost their jobs, many. And many more will.
"This is the biggest economic shock our nation has faced in generations. Australia - long an open, trading nation - is now closed off largely from the world. Internal border restrictions, not seen since before federation, are now in place."
The government has provided billions in support to small and medium businesses, including up to $100,000 in grants for each of them based on how much they pay their workers between March and May, government-guaranteed loans of up to $250,000 with no repayments for six months, protection from liquidation if they can't pay debts, and a 50 per cent wage subsidy for their apprentices.
Mr Morrison called on businesses to do their part to keep staff on if they could and to pledge them their jobs back if they couldn't.
As businesses stood people down they commit to staff that they would "do all they can on the other side to stand them back up again".
"This is the unwritten contract that is being undertaken between employers and employees as we speak."
"To those who have lost their jobs already and will, to those whose incomes are collapsing, to those who are barely holding their businesses together or have already seen their dream taken from them by this virus. This is devastating, and it is heartbreaking, and we will do all we can in this Parliament to help see you through."
Mr Morrison said the tests, hardships and sacrifices of the coming months would "undoubtedly break our hearts on many occasions" but Australians must not let fear take over.
"This will be a test of all Australians. It is a test of our nation. Of our spirit. There are some who believe liberal democracies and free societies cannot cope with these sorts of challenges. We will prove them wrong here in Australia."
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