CANBERRA, AAP – More than 80 per cent of home and small business loans deferred at the height of the coronavirus crisis are being repaid.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said banks had deferred payments on $250 billion of loans, with three-quarters borrowed for homes and the remainder for small businesses.
“We’re now seeing 80 per cent of those loans to households start to be paid back and 90 per cent of those loans that were deferred to small businesses,” he told Sky News on Friday.
“This is good news for the economy. It shows the confidence and the ability Australians now have to start making those repayments again.”
Labor is accusing the government of claiming victory over the recession and its aftermath while ignoring two million Australians in unemployment and underemployment.
Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said many families, workers and small businesses were still struggling with wages not keeping up with living costs.
“This prime minister and this treasurer will claim credit and influence where things go well in the economy and pretend that what goes badly is outside of their control,” he wrote in an opinion piece in The Australian.
“But in response to these uncertainties, we’re already seeing a failure of national leadership and lack of sound decisions based on what’s really happening in local economies and communities.”
There are persistent calls for the government to roll out a targeted support package for the ailing tourism sector after March, when JobKeeper wage subsidies end.
The treasurer argues there are a range of federal schemes stimulating the economy on top of the $350 million for regional tourism in October’s budget.
“We’ll continue to monitor the situation,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“We do recognise that the tourism sector has been hit particularly hard, but we also point out how much substantial support we have already provided – not just to the tourism sector but the economy more broadly.”
Queensland Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has called for JobKeeper to be extended for tourism businesses.
Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese is also pushing for additional support with international visitors absent from areas like far north Queensland.
“That’s the lifeblood of their economy and I think they’re deserving of support,” he told the Seven Network.
Mr Frydenberg is confident Queensland reopening its borders will provide a tourism boom, given 70 per cent of holiday spending is done domestically.
“The economic recovery still has some way to go. We know the road ahead is going to be hard, it’s going to be challenging,” he said.
But he pointed to an increase in jobs, improved economic growth, higher retail spending and increased house prices as signs the economy is bouncing back.