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Government assistance packages must take account of drought impacts

6 April, 2020
Government assistance packages must take account of drought impacts Image

Member for Barwon Roy Butler is urging the State and Federal Governments to take account of the impacts of drought and amend the eligibility criteria for the COVID-19 assistance packages.

“Businesses in Barwon have been suffering a decline in turnover for a number of years now due to the drought – for some areas the last good year of trade was 2016. 

“The assistance packages on offer from the State and Federal Governments both require businesses to show a decline in turnover brought on by COVID-19.

“For the State Small Business Support Grant of $10,000 a business needs to show it’s had a decline in turnover of 75% since March of this year. For the Federal Government’s Job Keeper program they need to show evidence of a 30% decline in turnover.

“My argument – and I’ve put it to NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet and Mark Coulton – is that businesses across Barwon have suffered this decline, if not more, over the course of this drought. 

“Coronavirus, and the subsequent drop in trade or complete loss of trade, will be the final blow some small businesses are unable to whether.

“Without the Government making allowances for the impact of drought, and providing much needed assistance, we will see a stark decline in small business numbers across regional NSW,” said Mr Butler. 

“I’ve been pushing for cash based assistance into our communities in response to drought for months now. In every single session of Parliament I’ve raised the need for urgent assistance – we’ve seen the Government act quickly on the bushfires and now on COVID-19 – sadly we haven’t see this same quick action on drought. 

“Time and again our communities get lumped with loans and debt as a solution to their call for help. No longer can we accept that solution. 

“Our farmers stand ready – with cash based Government assistance, they can return to production – which means jobs and turnover.  

“We need our small businesses there to support them and for that we need recognition from the Government that they’ve already been doing it tough and are therefore eligible for the support on offer.”

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