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Business groups praise $130bn wage subsidy plan

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
31 March 2020 2 minute readShare

Small and medium business groups have termed the government’s $130 billion JobKeeper package a survival kit that will keep the economy moving, despite the obstacles.

The state’s peak business organisation, Business NSW, has applauded the government for taking strong action to protect businesses and preserve jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is a historic rescue package reflecting the extraordinary times which we are all living through,” Business NSW CEO Stephen Cartwright said.

“No boss wants to make their staff redundant or cut hours, but sadly, that’s been the case across many industries as the coronavirus response measures took hold.”

He explained that this package will give a level of certainty to business owners and their staff while spurring the economy into health.

Survival kit for small businesses

Similar praise has come from the office of the small business ombudsman, with Kate Carnell labelling the government’s latest stimulus as a “survival kit” for small businesses.

“The JobKeeper payment will play a critical role in assisting small businesses that have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Ms Carnell.

Aside from allowing small businesses to continue trading and paying their staff, the package is also expected to ensure employers stay connected with their staff so they can re-engage their team when trading conditions return to normal.

“Any small business will tell you that staff are their most important asset and this announcement today will be a huge relief for many small businesses that have been in the midst of making very tough decisions about their future as a result of the coronavirus.”

The payment applies across the board to sole traders, the self-employed, full-time and casual staff that have worked for more than 12 months for the same employer.

“It’s a generous payment that’s equivalent to 70 per cent of the median wage, and while payments will start flowing to businesses from the first week of May, it has been backdated to staff on the books since 1 March 2020,” Ms Carnell added.

Staying connected

Joining in the applause, Peter Strong, CEO of COSBOA, said: “There are now hundreds of thousands of teams of people, employers and employees, around Australia working together on their futures and therefore on all our futures.

“This package means people can be connected, whereas before they were becoming disconnected not just physically but also structurally. There are now so many more things people can do besides sit around at home and fret and worry. We can all be part of getting ready to come out of this virus-driven mess.”

He added that the use of the Single Touch Payroll process gives greater certainty to employees and to the ATO that payments will be made.

“The great majority of small-business employers will breathe a sigh of relief and in some cases will become emotional at the thought of keeping their employees engaged or re engaging those they had to let go.

“We will work with the government to make this work as simply as possible.”

Boosting confidence 

Also welcoming the announcement was the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ), with the general manager of advocacy and policy, Amanda Rohan, explaining that the package will give businesses the confidence to plan their next steps.

“It is particularly a strong package for some of our hardest-hit industries such as retail, tourism and hospitality, as it will go a long way in employees being retained to be ready to hit the ground running when they can get back to work,” Ms Rohan said.

She added that while there is no blanket solution to this wide-reaching crisis and while many employees and sole traders had wages that far exceed this amount, “having a form of income for now will help”.

“There still needs to be further rental relief, through tax benefits and reduced utility costs, as that will go a long way with helping businesses manage their cash flow. We will be pushing the state and local governments to deliver more on that in the coming days,” Ms Rohan said.

Business groups praise $130bn wage subsidy plan
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Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of My Business. 

Maja has a decade-long career in journalism across finance, business and politics. Now a well-versed reporter in the SME and accounting arena, prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja reported for several established news outlets in Southeast Europe, scrutinising key processes in post-conflict societies and enabling citizens to influence decision-making.

You can email Maja on [email protected] 

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