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Government of Australia

(Federal/State Govt. / Local Govt./Govt. Bodies) Canberra AUSTRALIA
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Australia hands people cash to splurge for Christmas    
The Australian government delivered more than A$8 billion ($5.2 billion) in cash payments to families and pensioners from Monday to stop the economy from sliding into recession and urged people to spend the money ahead of Christmas.
The cash is part of a A$10.4 billion economic stimulus package announced on Oct. 14 and aimed at boosting consumer confidence and retail sales as Australia fights off slowing growth and rising unemployment due to the global downturn.
But rather than pay off debt, the government wants people to spend the money in the run up to Christmas, saying the spending will help protect jobs and save the economy from further slowing.
"I've urged pensioners and families to spend this money responsibly, to use this money to make ends meet, to help out their kids and help out their grandkids," Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on Monday.
"If the government doesn't empower consumers at a time like this, in the midst of global financial crisis, then in fact we will have even greater challenges ahead."
The payments come after official data showed Australia's economic growth slowed to 0.1 percent in the September quarter, its slowest pace in 8 years, and with unemployment set to rise due to the fallout from global slowdown.
The cash payments worth A$8.7 billion, or about 0.9 percent of gross domestic product, give 2 million families A$1,000 for each child, and give four million pensioners more than A$1,000 each. The money will be paid directly into bank accounts over two weeks.
Government of Australia 's City : Canberra
Government of Australia 's Country : AUSTRALIA
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