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Dan, stop your whinging & move forward

Peter Switzer
14 July 2021

As someone who never attacked Victorian Premier Dan Andrews when he complained about the extent of Federal Government support through his state’s long lockdowns, I feel compelled to tell him to stop his whingeing about the support New South Wales businesses are getting.

His fellow Victorian, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, has come the same line telling him to stop bellyaching, reminding him that it was his quarantine failures that meant his state’s lockdowns were longer than other states.

By the way, because of his quarantine mistakes, lockdowns were more numerous and longer, which meant his state got a bigger relevant proportion of the total JobKeeper payments that went to employees in beaten up businesses nationally.

And if I really wanted to play the silly politician, ask Dan to look at the loss of lives in Victoria compared to New South Wales (a tragic 820 in Victoria) and then ask this: is it wise to play politics with anything linked to this shocking virus and chapter in Australian history?

Frydenberg does make the point that NSW also is the first state to cop the full force of the Delta variant and what’s being offered now for the country’s biggest state economy will be the blueprint for other states if they have to fight this more contagious strain of the Coronavirus.

That’s me for refereeing the tit-for-tat complaints over money by state premiers. Now let’s get to what this assistance package actually offers. This is it in a nutshell:

  • Workers who have lost between 8-20 hours of work will receive a disaster payment of $375 a week. Those who have lost more than 20 hours will get $600. That will happen until lockdown ends or hours of work improve.
  • Sole traders will receive $1,000 a week if they’re hit by the restrictions.
  • Companies with an annual turnover between $75,000 and $50 million who can demonstrate a 30% decline in turnover, will get help.
  • The payments will range from $1,500 to $10,000 a week, based on 40% of the enterprise’s payroll payments.
  • To receive the payment, eligible entities will be required to maintain their full-time, part-time and long term casual staffing level as of 13 July 2021.
  • The NSW Government’s business grants programme announced two weeks ago has been expanded, with grants between $7,500 and $15,000 available to eligible businesses with annual wages up to $10 million.
  • Businesses will benefit from payroll tax waivers of 25% for businesses with wages bills between $1.2 million and $10 million, if they can show earnings have been hit by 30%.
  • Residential landlords who decrease rent for impacted tenants can apply for a grant of up to $1,500 or land tax reductions depending on their circumstances. 

Any business in Sydney or NSW should go to www.nsw.gov.au to see what help is there. It may be that the 40% of payroll rebate isn’t a great help for your business but possibly the grants might improve the overall value of the assistance.

This rescue plan could be better and government should be doing this because it has been their failures that explain the plight NSW is in compared to Queensland, WA, SA, Tasmania and so on.

But it’s better than nothing. The NSW Government website says: “We’ve got your back…”; but it’s only 40% of it!

Sure, keeping all your staff and getting a rebate for 40% of your payroll is better than nothing but you do have to keep your staff. And if turnover is down 30% or more, you don’t need the same amount of staff.

On the other hand, those business owners who would’ve kept their staff anyway and copped a lower profit or a loss to maintain their operation intact until the lockdown ended, will find this 40% payroll rebate a help.

One big problem with the measure is that it’s based on a 30% fall in turnover compared to the average over 2020-21, which was a shocker of a year for CBD businesses. One café owner in Sydney’s CBD said on that basis she might not get anything because that financial year saw their turnover down by close to 70%!

I’m dead against politicians whingeing about money but I’ve got an ear for any CBD business that’s really finding it tough because of government-imposed lockdowns that have given birth to a work-from-home trend that will be unstoppable and has ruined many  small businesses and lives in our major cities.


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