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As we finish the Parliamentary week, the one issue that is dominating everything is the word pandemic. Whilst the nation has endured a summer of drought, fire and now floods, it is actually a virus that has the potential to drive Australia’s growth into the ground.

The Government’s long, hard-fought budget surplus is starting to look precarious as the impact of the coronavirus starts to rip into not just our education, tourism and export sectors, but every sector of the economy. One of the leading indicators of economic prosperity is the stock market and as I’m writing this article, the Dow Jones Index has already experienced its largest one-day point drop in history. Since the last Inside Word, our Australian stock market has fallen by more than 10%, entering bear market territory. Both Reserve Bank Governor Phillip Lowe and leading economists are expecting a 0.5% decline in GDP growth for the next six months. The flow-on effect is enormous.

During the Parliamentary fortnight, the ALP’s climate change policy of zero carbon emissions by 2050, along with the continuing controversy of the sports grants and regional infrastructure grants, dominated most question times. But it was the salient words of our Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy that really sharpened the minds of our Parliamentarians, the media and the public at large. It is inevitable that COVID-19 will hit our shores. And this is despite the herculean efforts of the Government (from the Prime Minister, Health Minister Greg Hunt and State health officials) to prepare our medical personnel and facilities for the worst.

The coronavirus is having a devastating effect on the global economy confidence, accumulating in fear.

The challenge for businesses and legislators is how to deal in this new environment where we’ve effectively closed our borders with our largest trading partner China, and potentially other nations to follow. It demonstrates how interconnected we are for global prosperity and how vulnerable we are as nation states.

To steal a famous quote, “life is 10% what you experience and 90% how you respond.” The golden rule is to keep calm, not panic and prepare to get through this pandemic. Hats off to our wonderful scientists, our Australian universities and the CSIRO who are at the forefront of working on a vaccine to cure COVID-19.

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