Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce president Allan Milostic said the new package would help businesses and those who have lost their jobs due to coronavirus.
Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce president Allan Milostic said the new package would help businesses and those who have lost their jobs due to coronavirus.

Relief for region’s businesses and those who’ve lost jobs

A NEW $4 billion package to support Queenslander’s health, jobs and businesses will provide some much-needed relief to those doing it tough according to the Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce President.

The package was announced yesterday in a bid to provide further assistance to people impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The multibillion-dollar measures include a $300 million household relief package that will give Queensland households $200 off their utility bills.

An additional $2.5 billion will be pumped into protecting Queensland jobs and businesses with those affected receiving relief in the form of a refund of two months’ worth of payroll tax.

Small and medium businesses will also receive a three-month payroll tax holiday and a further six-month payroll tax deferral.

Whitsunday Coast Chamber of Commerce president Allan Milostic said this part of the package would take some of the burden off businesses following forced closures due to government regulations.

“I think it does give small businesses that will need to wind down or shut down a little bit for stamina to wait this out and be able to come back when the time comes,” he said.

“A lot of medium businesses around the place often miss out on a lot of the packages … so this will be good for them.”

The $2.5 million also includes a package of up to $500 million to assist workers who have lost their job to find employment in other vital industries including health care, agriculture, food production, transport, cleaning and mining.

Mr Milostic said this part of the package would also be beneficial for the region, especially in the lead up to the picking season.

With nonresidents and non-citizens barred from entering the country and state borders closing on Wednesday, Mr Milostic said the focus should be on creating a link between those who have lost employment in the region with farms in the Whitsundays.

“The farmers won’t have backpacker workforce that they’re used to, so this package will be helping that connection,” he said.

“We will be getting more and more isolated, so people will need to find work in the area.

“And this will get resolved, so we will need that ready workforce back on deck as soon as tourism ramps up again.”

He said the region would strongly benefit from helping people who have lost their jobs in tourism and on the islands to secure work on farms.

Other elements of the package include the waiving of liquor licencing fees for venues that have had to shut their doors due to restrictions and sole traders and a $500 power bill rebate for small and medium businesses.

Businesses who rent premises from the state government will also receive rent relief.

A further $1.2 billion will be channelled into the health system to expand fever clinic, emergency department capacity, acute care services and regional aeromedical services for remote communities.

Mr Milostic also praised the accessibility of the loans, which can be applied for online, and as the situation continues to unfold he said only time will tell what else the region may need.

“Overall, I think it has been well thought out and it’s welcome,” he said.

“We may need to be more, but we’ll find out in the next few weeks.”