In the wake of the latest influx of coronavirus cases in Victoria, and the subsequent return to Stage 3 lockdown for metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell shire, the State Government has announced a $534 million stimulus package for businesses.
Cash grants of $5000 will be available to 80,000 eligible businesses in lockdown-affected areas, while a $30 million fund will be available to the hospitality industry and $20 million to small businesses in the CBD.
The regional tourism industry will receive $40 million to cover refunds and marketing, while a further $26 million has been allocated for mental health support and mentoring for sole traders and small business owners.
The measures are aimed at reducing a decline in Victoria’s gross product.
“We are expecting that there will be literally billions of dollars written off the expected size of the Victorian economy,” says Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas.
“It will take some years before we see that level of economic activity come back.”
National employer association Ai Group believes the support should be extended beyond small business to businesses of all sizes.
“The announcement by the Victorian Government to provide further support to some businesses in the state paves the way for providing additional support to help the broader business community,” says Tim Piper, Victorian head of Ai Group.
Piper says many of the manufacturing and services industries, which will be expected to power the economy in the future, have seen dramatic reductions in business, and calls for further support and recognition across industry.
“Manufacturers cannot simply stop and start their businesses,” he says.
“If they stop it is likely to be for good. They provide vital and well-paid jobs which will be significant for our future economic wellbeing.”
The new package brings Victoria’s total stimulus to $6 billion. Pallas says additional measures will be announced at a later date.
“What’s critically important is that the wellbeing of Victorians and Victorian industry and business is first and foremost in our thinking during these difficult times,” he says.
“That is our driving focus, and that will be the effort where we put our continuing support over the weeks to come.”