Member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips MP has called on the Morrison Government to do more to support small businesses struggling in the aftermath of the recent bushfires.
For weeks, the Gilmore MP has been asking the government to address the unfolding economic crisis on the South Coast, and reports today that funding is not getting through are deeply concerning.
It has been revealed today that only 108 of 654 applications for the small business grants and fewer than half of the applications from fire-affected primary producers have been approved.
The criteria for these grants and loans are not fit for purpose in a tourism focused economy. Businesses have lost upwards of 80 per cent of their income and they need urgent assistance to address cash flow issues.
“The Australian and NSW Governments are squabbling while small businesses on the South Coast are struggling and financial help is just not getting through to where it is needed,”
“Local people need help now – every day I hear more and more stories of businesses on the brink, of people feeling traumatised by their government and I don’t want to see anyone falling through the cracks,” Fiona Phillips said.
Today, Labor has called on the government to take action to address these issues.
The government should consider extending eligibility and access to wage assistance programs for small businesses significantly directly and indirectly affected by the bushfire crisis.
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, which brought together 10 eminent business people to provide a direct line of ongoing advice to government.
“We need to make sure that small businesses are receiving the support they need to manage their finances. We need to increase the number of financial counsellors available and introduce a voucher scheme for accredited accountants to help impacted local businesses,” Fiona Phillips said.
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.