Australian Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg
Australian Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg

Treasurer still coy on virus hit to budget

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says Australians will have to wait for budget night to find out whether he can still deliver a surplus, as the effects of the coronavirus continue to weigh on the economy.

But he insists helping communities affected by economic shocks such as the summer's bushfires has been his priority.

Asked outright whether a surplus was still on the cards amid the economic impacts of coronavirus, Mr Frydenberg said people will have to wait until the budget is handed down in May.

"But I do know that this is going to hit the economy, and I do know that our focus has been in relation to the fires and other shocks that we've faced, on getting the support to the community in need," he told Sky News on Wednesday.

"That's been our primary focus, not the surplus."

The treasurer was also coy when asked whether a recession could be on its way.

He said, "That's not the word I would use," before noting he's waiting to see the figures from the December and March quarters.

But he stressed this was just the latest economic shock the Australian economy has faced, following trade tensions between the United States and China, an extended drought, bushfires and floods.

The virus is also a shock beyond our control, he said.

Treasury is still preparing its advice on the economic impacts of the virus.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Tuesday described the coronavirus outbreak as a global health crisis, warning the economic impacts would stretch far beyond Australia's tourism and education sectors.



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