24-hour police protection over threats
Josh Frydenberg has become the first Australian Treasurer in history to be issued with a 24/7 security detail after he received threats to his safety in light of the coronavirus crisis.
According to The West Australian, Mr Frydenberg has been under Australian Federal Police protection since early April.
While the exact nature of the threats have not been revealed, it is understood they arose following the Treasurer's announcement of the JobKeeper wage subsidy package.
The 48-year-old confirmed the news during an interview with ABC TV this morning, but vowed it was business as usual and that he was not concerned for his safety.
"They're matters the Federal Police handle and I will leave any comments to them and the Minister for Home Affairs," he said.
"You know, they make their assessments and I behave accordingly.
"I'm getting about my daily job."
As Australian employers began to receive the first round of JobKeeper payments today, Mr Frydenberg told the ABC another large round of economic stimulus was not on the cards.
"Our goal is to get those people off unemployment benefits and into a job and the best way we can do that is to generate economic activity," he said.
The shock revelation comes just hours after the father of two announced Australia's coronavirus restrictions had caused a severe economic blow to the tune of $4 billion per week during a National Press Club speech yesterday afternoon.
He predicted a 10 to 12 per cent drop in gross domestic product during the June quarter, the equivalent of around $50 billion, and also spoke about the controversial nature of the government's signature JobKeeper scheme.
"At $130 billion, there are some that say JobKeeper is too costly, while others say it has not gone far enough and needs to be expanded," he said.
"The reality is that we needed a program equivalent to the scale of the shock. JobKeeper was it.
"As John Howard said to me in the days before the package was announced, in 'times of crisis there are no ideological constraints'."
Mr Frydenberg said the government had struggled to strike a balance between coronavirus restrictions to protect public health and preserving the economy as much as possible.
"If these restrictions were increased even further, akin to the eight week lockdown in Europe, then the adverse impact on GDP could double to 24 per cent, or $120 billion, in the June quarter," he said.
"This would have seen enormous stress on our financial system as a result of increased balance sheet impairments, widespread firm closures, higher unemployment and higher household debt.
"This was the cliff we were standing on. The potential economic consequences of the pandemic were immense."
AFP protection is usually restricted to the prime minister only or for the opposition leader during election periods, although Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton also has around-the-clock personal security due to death threats from crime organisations.
But Queensland shadow Tourism Minister David Crisafulli told Sky News host Peter Gleeson the social media age had sparked a more "aggressive tone" during political debates alongside a "lack of accountability".
He said "people get behind that keyboard and spew vitriol", creating an "undercurrent of hatred which is very dangerous", although he said "only a very small minority would seek to cause threat or harm".
Originally published as 24-hour police protection over threats