Morrison calls for coronavirus calm in speech to nation

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Canberra: Prime Minister Scott Morrison has used a landmark address to the nation to call for calm amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Morrison on Thursday night became the first prime minister to deliver a televised national address since former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd did so during the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008, according to The Australian, Xinhua reported.

“I want to assure you and your family tonight that while Australia cannot and is not immune from this virus, we are well prepared and are well equipped to deal with it,” he said.

“And we do have a clear plan to see Australia through.”

He outlined the plan in three goals: protecting Australians’ health, securing Australians’ jobs and livelihoods and setting Australia up to bounce back stronger when the crisis is over.

The speech came hours after Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced a AU$17.6 billion stimulus package in an attempt to save jobs.

The government has also announced AU$2.4 billion Australian dollars ($1.5 billion) medical response to the virus.

“The months ahead will present many challenges, and we will respond to them. We will continue to keep you updated and take decisions based on the best possible medical advice,” Morrison said on Thursday night.

Parts of the economic stimulus package will require legislation that the government intends to introduce when Parliament resumes on March 23.

The Opposition Labor Party has signalled support for such legislation, with leader Anthony Albanese on Friday calling for Parliament to be reconvened earlier so it can be rushed through.

“Labor will expedite any passage of legislation through both houses of parliament,” he told reporters.
(Agencies)