Eligible small businesses in Morwell, Victoria that have indirectly been affected by a loss of income as a result of the Hazelwood Mine Fire will now be able to access a new $100,000 government concessional loan.
The fire, which broke out on February 9, has been burning at the Hazelwood open cut coal mine in the Latrobe Valley for more than a month. It was under control as of yesterday, but as the ABC reported, by then it had choked the nearby town of Morwell with thick, foul-smelling smoke for two-and-a-half weeks, prompting authorities to urge vulnerable people to relocate.
The concessional loan is part of the jointly-funded Commonwealth and State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA). This new assistance offers concessional loans of up to $100,000 to eligible small businesses, primary producers and not-for-profit organisations. The loans can be used to fund essential working capital, including salaries and wages, paying creditors and rent, and for essential supplies.
“Disasters are tough for small businesses,” Federal Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson said. “Beyond the initial clean-up, small businesses often have to deal with interrupted supply chains, weaker trading conditions, mounting bills and a cash flow squeeze.”
“We understand that the recovery of small businesses is crucial to a community’s revival after a natural disaster and that enterprises can be pushed to the brink by the consequences of such an event.”
“This new assistance complements the existing concessional interest rate loans which have already been made available to small businesses that have sustained direct physical damage from the Hazelwood Mine Fire and forms a comprehensive recovery package for small businesses in Morwell,” added the Victorian Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Bushfire Response Kim Wells.
To apply for a concessional interest rate loan small businesses, primary producers and not-for-profit organisations can contact the Rural Finance Corporation on 1800 260 425 or online at www.ruralfinance.com.au. For further information on available recovery assistance, visit the Victorian Government’s Emergency Relief and Recovery Victoria website or the Australian Government’s Disaster Assist website.