Mar 2, 2020

ALBANESE, O’CONNOR & WATT – MEDIA RELEASE – WAGE ASSISTANCE SUPPORT FOR BUSHFIRE AFFECTED SMALL BUSINESS – MONDAY, 2 MARCH 2020

ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER

 

BRENDAN O’CONNOR MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR SMALL AND FAMILY BUSINESS
MEMBER FOR GORTON

 

MURRAY WATT
SHADOW MINISTER FOR DISASTER AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
LABOR SENATOR FOR QUEENSLAND

 

WAGE ASSISTANCE SUPPORT FOR BUSHFIRE AFFECTED SMALL BUSINESS

 

Federal Labor calls on the Morrison Government to do more for struggling small businesses in bushfire affected areas by offering a targeted program of wage assistance for employers.

 

Small businesses in fire devastated areas around the country are desperate for financial help right now. Concern is mounting that the Morrison Government’s small business package is not getting to businesses that need it most, nor having the desired result.

 

These small businesses in fire affected areas are facing a cash flow crisis – while shopfronts are still standing, many have lost their livelihoods due to the ongoing bushfires, and are facing continued economic uncertainty, severely impacting their ability to employ staff.

 

That is why the Government should consider extending eligibility and access to wage assistance programs for small businesses significantly directly and indirectly affected by the bushfire crisis.

 

Wage assistance was provided to North Queensland communities of up to 26 weeks at the NewStart rate by the previous Labor Federal Government when tropical Cyclone Yasi hit in 2011. Why has the Morrison Government not considered this response already?

 

In addition to targeted wage assistance, Labor also continues to call on the Morrison Government to set up a Prime Minister’s Business Taskforce, as was created after the 2011 Queensland floods and brought together 10 eminent business people to provide a direct line of ongoing advice to Government.

 

We also call on the Government to provide greater financial counselling for small businesses by increasing the number of financial counsellors available, while introducing a voucher scheme for accredited accountants to assist small businesses with accessing bushfire recovery commitments such as grants and loans, and revising their business plans.

 

Over the past few weeks, the cameras may have left and the fires may have abated, but communities still need assistance. It is imperative that businesses remain viable and local workers maintain their jobs.

 

Labor’s suggestion can be picked up and adopted by the Morrison Government now to mitigate the pain and suffering from the current emergency, and help rebuild resilient communities in areas facing a downturn as a result of the disaster.

 

MONDAY, 2 MARCH 2020