Statement on federal response to small business in bushfire affected communities

Today’s announcement by the Prime Minister of a specific package for bushfire impacted small businesses will provide welcome relief to local business owners and their employees on the South Coast, in the Shoalhaven, the Snowy Mountains and the Southern Highlands, according to the Illawarra Business Chamber.

The announcement comes in the immediate wake of a $75 million tourism recovery package announced by the federal government yesterday, and amid widespread concerns by businesses across the wider southern region of NSW that have been plunged into a cashflow and visitation crisis by the recent bushfire events.

Key measures announced include:

  • Loans of up to $500,000 for businesses that have suffered significant asset loss or significant loss of revenue, interest free for up to two years, after which the interest rate will be half of the Commonwealth bond rate (currently 0.6 percent)
  • An extension of the already-introduced grants of up to $50,000 for fire impacted business premises
  • Access to financial advice, the establishment of local economic plans and tax relief.

Illawarra Business Chamber Executive Director Adam Zarth welcomed the announcement, saying that businesses doing it tough had been awaiting confirmation of federal government support following last week’s meeting with the Prime Minister in Canberra, and called on the government to ensure that eligibility criteria is as broad as possible.

“The announcement of the no-interest loan scheme, the grants and the temporary tax relief will provide some comfort to the many businesses that we know are struggling across the southern region of NSW,” said Mr Zarth.

“However I note that the grants will not be available to businesses other than those suffering direct property damage, and the tax concessions provide short term relief through deferrals of liabilities that may later still be applicable once businesses return to profitability.”

“The government needs to ensure that all those businesses suffering in the current downturn can access some form of assistance through the loan scheme announced today, by implementing the widest possible eligibility criteria.”

“Apart from the financial support, it’s good to see the commitment of the Government to work with local business organisations on developing localised recovery plans, as it’s the Local Chambers of Commerce that have the knowledge and experience to help their communities get back on their feet.

“I also welcome the inclusion of funding for a domestic and international marketing initiative in the tourism package announced over the weekend, as our tourist destinations have been hit hard through cancellations and a lack of forward bookings.”

/Public Release. View in full here.