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Government ups the ante with another $48m help for battling businesses

Business

For some, the $5,000 COVID-19 Business Support Grants came too slow, and were not enough. The State Government has now revamped the program.

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While Queensland continues to avoid the scale of outbreaks that have befallen New South Wales and Victoria, ongoing restrictions, border closures, and the lack of international tourists continue to weigh heavily on the business sector.

According to a Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland survey, released on Monday, business confidence in the June quarter declined for the first time since March 2020.

More than 40 per cent of businesses have been forced to contribute their own personal funds to stay afloat – more than $110,000 on average – with a similar proportion reporting mental health issues among staff or owners.

Treasurer Cameron Dick today said a new $47.75 million tourism and hospitality and support package was designed to help.

“We’ve listened to what business has to say and we know the measures deliver immediate cash flow assistance,” Dick said.

Under the package, eligible businesses will be able to defer payroll tax payments for six months, while some tourism and liquor licensing fees could also be deferred, refunded or waived.

“In response to the lockdown in Cairns and Yarrabah in the far north, we are also extending eligibility for the $5,000 COVID-19 Business Support Grants to include large tourism and hospitality businesses outside south-east Queensland,” Dick said.

No new cases have been reported in far north Queensland today, only three new cases linked to the Indooroopilly cluster, all of whom were in home quarantine while infectious.

On Thursday, it will have been two weeks since the first case in the cluster was reported, involving an Indooroopilly State High School Student. While the south-east Queensland lockdown has been lifted, four local schools remain closed and there are 13,271 in home quarantine.

Given the large number of exposure sites, having to close and be cleaned due to a visit by someone with COVID-19, the government will also pay $20 million in rebates for small and medium businesses and not-for-profit organisations. Those rebates – separate to the tourism and hospitality support – will cover up to 80 per cent of cleaning costs, capped at $10,000 per incident.

“Businesses and community organisations throughout the state have helped keep Queenslanders safe by acting swiftly and responsibly to undertake deep cleaning when a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 has been on their premise,” Dick said.

The Liberal National Party Opposition has criticised the pace and scale of the Labor government’s response to appeals from the business sector for more support.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was today asked if the support package was too late and said “no, not at all”.

“We’ve been progressively announcing millions of dollars to businesses right across this state,” Palaszczuk said.

She also defended the government’s decision to keep secret research on community sentiment throughout the pandemic, insisting it guided advertising and media campaigns, not decisions on restrictions and lockdowns.

Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young, who advises the government on such decisions, said she takes advice on messaging from media and marketing teams.

“I’m not an advertising or marketing person so I really need that support,” Young said, suggesting she only knew of research in relation to advertising.

Palaszczuk suggested the research would have helped guide business support packages, although she did not proclaim to have seen it all.

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