Every stage in the framework allows more relaxation of the social distancing rules and business closures, with a gap of four weeks to gauge the impact on virus case numbers before proceeding to the next stage.
“We can’t become content with just having a low number of cases,” said one federal government source. “That is not winning.”
The loan repayment figures, sourced from the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, show 6 per cent of mortgage customers and 13 per cent of small business customers have asked to defer their repayments. This covers loans worth $150 to $160 billion.
This is seen as showing the banking sector can withstand the strain from the economic slump but the community cannot afford the restrictions to go on much longer when coronavirus case numbers have come under control.
While every state and territory leader will decide a separate timetable according to case numbers in his or her jurisdiction, Mr Morrison is privately arguing for a priority on returning children to school.
The Prime Minister regards the reopening of school classrooms as the “turn the key” factor in opening up the economy, given Treasury analysis this week found the school closures cost 304,000 jobs by keeping parents at home.
Victoria is the last jurisdiction to outline its return to school after the Labor government of the Australian Capital Territory announced on Thursday a phased reopening from May 18, with students in Kindergarten to Year 2, and Years 7, 11 and 12 the first to go back.
The federal data shows Victoria has seen the greatest fall in jobs during the crisis, with employment down 8.6 per cent and wages down 9.2 per cent.
Across the country, according to single touch payroll data, jobs fell by 7.5 per cent and the wage bill paid by business fell by 8.2 per cent between the weeks ending 14 March and 18 April.
In another sign of the pressure on households, the federal economic data shows 1.2 million people have applied for the early release of superannuation worth $9.8 billion. This is a small proportion of the $3 trillion in Australian super savings.
Aware a vaccine may take longer than some hope, the Morrison government wants to open as much of the economy as possible by July so it can operate behind the closed borders well into next year.
The plan assumes the mammoth federal assistance measures, including the $130 billion JobKeeper wage subsidy, have to be unwound from the end of September even if the economy has not recovered to full strength.
The government estimates it has paid about $25 billion in assistance to workers, employers and others over the past weeks, while it expects to pay another $30 billion over the next month.
About 420,000 small and medium businesses have received cash flow assistance.
David Crowe is chief political correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.