What JobKeeper changes mean for Whitsunday businesses
A LIFELINE for many Whitsunday businesses took a big hit today, however owners say it will be a few months before the impact of reduced JobKeeper is felt as the school holidays provide a welcome boost to numbers.
The payment will also drop from $1500 a fortnight to $1200 and $750 for part-timers.
Economic and demographic analysts REMPLAN reported 38 per cent of business in the Whitsundays were registered with JobKeeper in May this year.
The Airlie Beach region was the worst affected area with more than 50 per cent of business registered.
Fish D’Vine owner Kevin Collins said the school holidays had provided a big enough boost to the hospitality sector that the reduced payments would not have a big impact on the industry.
However, with the capacity of some venues still limited, Mr Collins said the payments would need to continue for businesses to stay afloat.
“All we want as JobKeeper disappears (is that) we are allowed to reopen to our capacities,” he said.
“While we’re knocking back business every night, we need help to be able to do that.
“JobKeeper at a reduced level is still absolutely worth keeping.”
Despite the fact his restaurant was operating at about 50 per cent capacity, Mr Collins had confidence that many Airlie Beach eateries were beginning to thrive.
However, he also recognised that this may not be the case for every industry, especially backpacker tourism.
“For those businesses with international clients, it is very, very difficult so maybe there needs to be a business by business analysis,” he said.
“But certainly, from a restaurant perspective and a food and beverage perspective, there’s plenty of business here but we’re not allowed to service it all because of the restrictions.
“While we can’t operate to capacity the industry still needs assistance.
“If they take that assistance away and still won’t let us operate at capacity, then it’s going to be very, very difficult to get by.”
Big4 Whitsunday Adventure Resort owner operator Greg McKinnon also reported a bumper September school holidays saying Queenslanders had flocked to the region.
However, Mr McKinnon was cautious to make a judgment call on the of JobKeeper changes during what was a turbulent time for tourism.
“Having the JobKeeper payment absolutely set us up for being ready for September school holidays,” he said.
“Dropping the value of it has to happen somewhere along the line, I just hope everyone’s out there saving their pennies so when February and March comes they’re not sitting there saying ‘Hey, we’ve got no money again’.”
Mr McKinnon supported the call for an extension, and said it would provide businesses across the region, especially those reliant on international tourism, a safety net for the coming months.
“It would help the whole tourism industry,” he said.
“We need it until we can get our feet firmly back into trade.
“When Australia is safe and Victoria is open and NSW is open and those massive numbers can actually travel throughout the whole country, then we should be able to see how we’re sitting and how we’re feeling.”