In late 2019 and early 2020 the world’s attention was captured by the scale and severity of the bushfires which have ravaged the east coast of Australia. 29 people are confirmed to have lost their lives and over 2,500 homes have also been lost. More than 10 million hectares (25 million acres) of land has been burned, with many of the fires still burning. There has been a staggering impact on wildlife. Estimates put the loss of wildlife at more than 1 billion animals.

The economic impact of the bushfires is not yet known but some estimates are putting it at more than $5 billion. The Federal Government has established a $2 billion National Bushfire Recovery Fund which includes an initial $76 million tourism recovery package. The initiative aims to protect jobs, small businesses and local economies by helping to get tourists travelling across Australia again in the wake of the bushfires. The rebuilding and recovery efforts will create demand for building and other products and there will also be a lift in employment as these get underway.

The Federal Government has also announced top-up grants of up to $50,000, tax-free, and low-interest loans of up to $500,000 to businesses that have lost significant assets or had a major drop in revenue as a result of the fires. These are in addition to other aid which is being provided by organisations such as Farmers Across Borders, where Western Australian farmers are donating stock feed and transporting it to the worst-affected areas. In a demonstration of extreme generosity, close to $500 million has been raised through charitable organisations, corporate donations, family offices, high net-worth individuals and everyday Australians.

The scale of the fire damage is of such magnitude that the Federal Government has signalled that it will threaten the forecast budget surplus. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has advised the government cannot confirm it will achieve a budget surplus as it is too early to tell the economic impact of the bushfire crisis. Prime Minister Scott Morrison previously conceded the bushfire support package would reduce the $5 billion surplus forecast for this financial year.

Dwelling values rose nationally by 1.1% in December 2019 and by 4.0% for the quarter to finish the year on a positive note. This represents the fastest rate of national dwelling value growth over any three month period since November 2009. Darwin was the only capital city to record a fall in values over the month with a modest - 0.5% decline. On an annual basis, Australian dwelling values tracked 2.3% higher over the 2019 calendar year. Five of the eight capital cities ended the year in positive growth territory with only Perth (- 6.8%), Darwin (- 9.7%) and Adelaide (- 0.2%) showing an annual decline.

(Source: CoreLogic)