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Put your money where your mouth is: Firms want support to cope with lockdown

Business

Queensland’s opposition and Katter’s Australia Party are urging the Palaszczuk government to implement targeted business support, saying the state’s snap three-day lockdown is crippling local industry.

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Since Tuesday’s lockdown announcement, the state government has not introduced any economic support for tourism and regional Queensland businesses operators.

Millions of people in southeast Queensland, Townsville, Magnetic Island and Palm Island are in lockdown amid five separate virus outbreaks.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has implored Queenslanders to buy locally and support take-out restaurants, but is yet to pledge targeted support.

Liberal National Party MP Brent Mickelberg says the government’s management of restrictions fails to incorporate costs to small businesses.

“What we saw today was a slap in the face for small and family businesses,” he said on Thursday.

“It was another day where Labor ignore the cries for help from small businesses across the state.”

Citing the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland, Opposition Leader David Crisafulli implored the premier to consider how many family-run businesses would struggle throughout lockdown.

The CCIQ wants payments of up to $25,000 for affected businesses to recover costs to reinstate their business after lockdown.

KAP leader Robbie Katter highlighted state-based economic packages used in other states and territories and called on the premier to do the same.

He said it was unsustainable in the long-term for small businesses, and taxpayers through rescue packages, to absorb the financial impacts of unpredictable lockdowns.

While Katter agrees there’s a dire need for financial support, he wants it scaled according to demonstrated needs.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and don’t have the ability survive long-term economic pressure, especially pressure forced upon them by their own government,” the Traeger MP said.

“As they say, put your money where your mouth is; if the Palaszczuk government expects the small business community to shut up shop and fall in line to stop the spread of COVID, they must be prepared to foot the bill for these small businesses to stay afloat.

“When you drive through North Queensland, through Townsville and out west, you do not overwhelmingly see big business; you see hundreds of little shopfronts all run and staffed by locals in the community.”

While small businesses navigate the uncertainty of lockdown, the Townsville Chamber of Commerce says regional areas face a differing situation to the southeast.

CEO Ross McLennan says regional businesses outside local government areas in lockdown faced significant flow-on impacts similar to those forced to close.

“Regional Queensland businesses rely and depend on the markets in their surrounding regions not just those in the local government areas that might be declared as a hotspot,” he said.

“Townsville and Palm Island are the first regional-specific lockdowns, more than 1200 kilometres from Brisbane, since the state-wide lockdown last year.

“This time, without JobKeeper in place, it is vital businesses have confidence there will be support in place to make sure they will be able to continue trading into the future.”

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