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How the coronavirus outbreak could spur on an Australian manufacturing boom

Amid the coronavirus outbreak the Reserve Bank of Australia yesterday cut interest rates to a historic new low, but a major Australian retailer says business is booming and the virus outbreak is an opportunity for the government to help Australian manufacturers grow.

With the interest rate at 0.5 per cent, Australians are being urged to spend to help stimulate the troubled economy.

But founder of Harvey Norman, Gerry Harvey, said shoppers are already spending.

“We’ve had some rain,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

“People are coming into our stores and they’re not talking about coronavirus, they’re talking about ‘isn’t it great to see the rain?’

“They’re spending!

“Our weekend sales were actually better than last year!”

With the coronavirus affecting imports, Mr Harvey urged the Australian government to take the opportunity to support Australian manufacturers.

He called on treasurer Josh Frydenberg to give one year interest-free loans to Australian manufacturers who can compete with importers, so they can expand their businesses.

“This will give them a little bit of a chance to get going. They’ll employ people, they’ll pay taxes. It’ll be much better for the Australian economy,” he said.

“These are not new businesses. These are the survivors of the last 20 years that have been able to compete with these importers, so you’re backing somebody that has got a track record.

“If they can grow their business then that’s a wonderful thing for Australia.”

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Image: Bloomberg / Getty