Josh Frydenberg had to bolt from his interview with A Current Affair. Picture: Nine
Josh Frydenberg had to bolt from his interview with A Current Affair. Picture: Nine

Tracy Grimshaw stunned as Frydenberg bolts interview

A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw was left bemused last night as Treasurer Josh Frydenberg cut short his prerecorded interview with the program.

Mr Frydenberg was in the middle of an answer about school closures when a division was called in the House of Representatives, which was considering the Government's coronavirus stimulus measures.

"Trace, I have to go, Trace, because there's a division. OK, bye," Mr Frydenberg said, abruptly getting up from his seat and taking out his earpiece and microphone.

"Oh, OK, all right," Grimshaw said.

"I had so many other questions, but bye, I understand that you have to go."

Mr Frydenberg couldn't hear her - his earpiece was already out - but he could be heard addressing someone off camera.

"Will you tell her that I can come back?" Mr Frydenberg asked.

"Oh good. OK, we'll wait," said Grimshaw.

Viewers then saw a compilation of clips showing what happened while Grimshaw waited, fruitlessly, for Mr Frydenberg to return.

"As you can see, we are fulfilling our hygiene requirements here," she quipped as a staffer cleaned the chair Mr Frydenberg had been sitting on.

"We're waiting for the Treasurer to come back. We understand he is rushing back after that division."

Cue footage of a relaxed Mr Frydenberg in the House, speaking to Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese.

Then, finally, just a shot of the empty chair.

"Yeah, no dice. As you heard, the Treasurer said he'd come back for the rest of that interview, but he was waylaid by the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader after that division trying to get stimulus measures through, we're told," Grimshaw said.

These things happen during parliamentary sittings, but it's always nice when the hilariously awkward moments are caught on camera.

Josh Frydenberg had to bolt from his interview with A Current Affair. Picture: Nine
Josh Frydenberg had to bolt from his interview with A Current Affair. Picture: Nine

The $84 billion in stimulus measures did eventually pass, earning final approval from the House at about 11pm.

In separate legislation, the Government also set aside a further $40 billion for urgent and unforeseen spending associated with the pandemic. It has already acknowledged a third round of stimulus will likely be needed.

An amendment to the measures passed last night ensures the Government will no longer need legislation to make changes to eligibility and rates for a variety of welfare payments. That unprecedented power will expire at the end of the year.

"The measures that have been passed by the parliament today represent the most significant support for the Australian economy and community since the war," Mr Frydenberg said late last night.

He said it was a "Team Australia" moment, and would provide "the hope and support Australians need".

A big chunk of the stimulus - $66 billion of it - was laid out in detail by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Sunday.

These are the key elements included in the package.

THE CORONAVIRUS SUPPLEMENT

This will be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight over the next six months.

It will be given to existing and new recipients of the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit.

You get that money on top of your usual payments.

The Government is increasing the staff of Services Australia by 5000.

The cost to the budget is $14.1 billion over the forward estimates.

PAYMENTS TO SOME HOUSEHOLDS

In addition to the $750 stimulus payment announced 10 days ago, the Government is giving another $750 to social security and veteran income support recipients, along with eligible concession card holders.

You only get this cash if you're not already receiving one of the payments eligible for the Coronavirus Supplement mentioned above.

This new $750 payment will be made from July 13.

The measure costs $4 billion.

EARLY RELEASE OF SUPERANNUATION

The Government is allowing people in financial stress as a result of the virus to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in the 2019-20 fiscal year, and another $10,000 in 2020-21.

You'll have to apply online through the myGov website. If approved, you will not need to pay tax on the money released.

To be eligible, either your number of hours worked or your income will need to have fallen by 20 per cent.

This one costs the budget $1.2 billion.

TEMPORARY REDUCTION OF MINIMUM SUPER DRAWDOWN RATES

The Government's temporarily reducing superannuation minimum drawdown requirements for account-based pensions and similar products by 50 per cent for this fiscal year and the next one.

This is designed to give retirees more flexibility in managing their superannuation assets.

REDUCTION IN SOCIAL SECURITY DEEMING RATES

The Government is reducing deeming rates by a further 0.25 percentage points on top of the measures announced in its first round of stimulus.

This measure reflects the Reserve Bank's rate reduction earlier this week.

The Government estimates about 900,000 income support recipients, including pensioners, will benefit.

THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS TO BUSINESSES

Small and medium-sized businesses with turnover under $50 million, along with not-for-profit charities, will be eligible for a tax-free cash payment of up to $100,000.

The payment will be worth 100 per cent of the tax those entities withhold from their employees' salaries and wages.

Eligible businesses will get a minimum of $20,000.

This is a dramatic escalation of a previously announced policy, which limited the payment to a maximum of $25,000 and a minimum of $2000.

CORONAVIRUS SME GUARANTEE SCHEME

In this scheme, available to banks and other lenders, the Government guarantees half of a bank's loan to a small or medium enterprise impacted by the virus.

The scheme will support up to $40 billion in lending (meaning the Government is guaranteeing $20 billion).

Once again, the threshold for eligibility is turnover under $50 million. This policy will apply to loans granted within six months, starting on April 1.

TEMPORARY RELIEF FOR FINANCIALLY DISTRESSED BUSINESSES

The Government is temporarily increasing the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive.

This also includes temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent.

SUPPORT FOR AIRLINES

The Government is providing up to $715 million in support for Australian airlines and airports to ensure the industry is not decimated by the crisis.

Originally published as Tracy Grimshaw stunned as guest bolts


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