Scott Morrison is appealing to Australians' patriotism to guide the nation through the spread of the deadly coronavirus as his government prepares to jettison its planned surplus.
But the prime minister has also reassured Australians his government won't look at further cuts to essential services such as schools, hospitals and the NDIS as it deals with the economic impact of the health crisis.
His government is putting the final touches on a stimulus package, expected to be worth as much as $10 billion.
In a speech to business leaders on Tuesday morning, Mr Morrison outlined seven principles guiding that economic response.
He says it must be proportionate, timely and scalable, targeted to specific issues, aligned with other areas of policy including the RBA's actions, use existing delivery mechanisms such as Centrelink payments, temporary, and lift productivity.
The coronavirus is a "new, complex, hydra-headed and rapidly evolving challenge", he told the AFR summit in Sydney.
"Whatever you thought 2020 was going to be about, think again," Mr Morrison said.
"We now have one goal together this year: to protect the health, the wellbeing and livelihoods of Australians through this global crisis, and to ensure that when the recovery comes, and it will, we are well-positioned to bounce back strongly on the other side."
It is important to remember the problem is only a temporal one, not structural, and learn the lessons of the global financial crisis, he said.
"The measures must be temporary and accompanied by a fiscal exit strategy. They cannot be baked into the bottom line for years to come, keeping the budget under water."
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the government is no longer focused on its promised surplus.
"Our package will have an immediate impact across the economy, it will be targeted, it will be responsible and measured," he told ABC news.
Mr Morrison described the crisis as a "team Australia moment" and told businesses they can help out by paying suppliers promptly and keeping their staff in jobs.
"Hold on to your people because you will need them on the bounce back on the other side. Wherever possible, support them - full-time, part-time, casual - including with paid leave if they need to take time off during the course of the virus."
Stock markets plunged on Monday, shedding about $155 billion as a looming oil price war added to fears about the coronavirus.
Mr Morrison says he expects the market to respond in a less volatile way when more data was available, pointing out coronavirus had a lower death rate than other illnesses such as SARS.
"This has a fixed life, this virus. It will run its course."
Business Council of Australia president Tim Reed says the government should provide temporary tax relief for small business, so they can retain staff.
Mr Reed expects one quarter of negative economic growth to occur because of the virus, and says people who lose their jobs because of the health crisis shouldn't have the usual wait to receive welfare.
Unions have raised fears about the fate of about 3.3 million Australians in casual jobs who don't have access to paid sick leave.
The workers' groups will raise the issue with Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter when they meet with him on Tuesday.
Australian Associated Press