Australia announces economic stimulus package

SYDNEY, October 14, 2008 (AFP) – Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on Tuesday unveiled a 10.4 billion dollar (7.25 billion US) economic stimulus package to counter a slowdown caused by the global financial crisis.

“The global financial crisis has entered into a new dangerous and damaging phase, one that goes to the real economy — growth and jobs,” Rudd told reporters in Canberra.

“That’s why the government has decided to act decisively and early on the question of this economic security strategy for the future,” he said, stressing the need to underpin Australian economic growth.

The surprise package primarily targets pensioners, low and middle-income families, carers and first-home buyers, and is aimed at boosting consumer spending.

It consists of five main measures, including setting aside 4.8 billion dollars for an immediate down payment on long-term pension reforms and 3.9 billion dollars for support payments for low and middle income families.

A further 1.5 billion dollars will go towards helping first-time buyers purchase a new home.

In addition, 187 million dollars will go to creating 56,000 new training places, and the government will also speed up major infrastructure project