Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan has welcomed an additional $76 million from the Federal Nationals in Government to help the tourism industry recover and grants and tax-relief for businesses in areas worst-hit by bushfires.

Grants for eligible businesses and non-profit organisations of up to $50,000 (tax free) have also been announced to help businesses get back on their feet after suffering direct fire damage or adverse financial impacts due to the unprecedented bushfires.

“A large proportion of jobs locally depend on the tourism, hospitality and small business sectors and we want them to remain and prosper in the future,” Mr Conaghan said.

“In Coffs Harbour in particular, where the World Rally Championship was cancelled just three days prior to the event due to the bushfires, businesses have suffered from accommodation cancellations and reduced hospitality spending.

“The grants of up to $50,000 for eligible businesses will provide the chance for some of these impacted businesses to recover from these losses.

“And the extension of Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements will mean eligible businesses that have suffered significant asset loss or revenue loss will be able to apply for loans of up to $500,000 with a repayment holiday of up to two years.

“These measures, in combination with the direct investment the government will make in tourism marketing, will help our local businesses recover from this natural disaster and keep providing the jobs local people rely on.”

The initial $76 million tourism recovery package responds directly to calls from the tourism sector and includes:

  • $20 million for a nationally coordinated domestic marketing initiative
  • $25 million for a global marketing campaign to drive international visitation
  • $10 million for a regional tourism events initiative across bushfire affected areas
  • $9.5 million for an international media and travel trade hosting initiative
  • $6.5 million to support tourism business’ attendance at the largest annual tourism trade event the Australian Tourism Exchange; and
  • $5 million for our diplomatic network to share the message Australia’s tourism, international education and export sectors are open for business.

The Government’s further assistance to impacted businesses follows the small business roundtable held in Canberra last week with chambers of commerce from fire affected regions, the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia.

Assistance includes:

  • Tax-free grants of up to $50,000 for eligible businesses that have sustained damage as a result of bushfires
  • Concessional loans of up to $500,000 for eligible businesses with a repayment holiday of up to two years, with no interest accruing during this period. The subsequent interest rate would be set at 50 per cent of the ten-year Commonwealth government bond rate (currently around 0.6 per cent)
  • Tax-relief: The Commissioner of Taxation has agreed to provide a range of assistance measures to businesses in identified bushfire-impacted postcodes. These businesses will now have until 28 May 2020 to lodge and pay business activity statements and income tax returns. Impacted businesses that pay their Pay-As-You-Go Instalments quarterly are also allowed to vary these instalments to zero for the December 2019 quarter and claim a refund for any instalments made in the September 2019 quarter
  • And $3.5 million for establishing the Small Business Bushfire Financial Support Line as well as to fund 10 additional financial counsellors with the ability to provide advice to around 100 small businesses a day. While the specialist support line is being established, businesses can visit or call 13 28 46.

These recovery initiatives form part of the Nationals in Government’s initial $2 billion National Bushfire Recovery Fund. They follow assistance measures announced recently of grants of up to $75,000 for eligible primary producers affected by bushfire and $1 million each for the five councils in the electorate of Cowper.