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Labor: NSW Residents And Small Businesses Left To Fend For Themselves After Bushfires

NSW Labor has called for the Berejiklian Liberal National government to urgently step up and match the bushfire recovery assistance measures adopted by other states. Under questioning at a Budget Estimates hearing, Finance and Small Business Minister Damien Tudehope admitted that NSW had failed to offer the same level of support to residents and small businesses as other states. It has been revealed that while NSW has refused to act for bushfire victims, people in Victoria and South Australia have access to:

· Land tax waiver

· Motor vehicle duty waiver

· Stamp duty waiver for business premises

· Payroll tax reduction

Labor’s Shadow Minister for Finance and Small Business Daniel Mookhey said “we knew the NSW budget was already in a sorry state before the bushfire hit, but that should not mean that those affected in New South Wales should be worse off than those in Victoria or South Australia.” “Tragically, that’s currently the situation we have. This government has to fix this error immediately.” Labor has also called for urgent action to fix the bushfire recovery grant scheme that is currently failing small businesses across the state. The Berejiklian Liberal National government admitted that although 2,300 small businesses had been directly fire impacted, only 179 had received a grant out of 747 applications. Furthermore, of the small businesses that were accepted, they only received on average $20,000 rather than the full grant amount of $50,000. The new figures come after it was previously revealed only 143 small businesses had accessed a $500,000 Special Disaster Loan. “When you have a scheme that is rejecting over three quarters of small businesses, it is just not good enough,” said Mr Mookhey. "It is estimated that tens of thousands of small business have experienced a downturn due to the bushfires this summer but have been unable to access assistance due to a narrow eligibility criteria, which restricts access to businesses with direct damage to their premises or equipment. “Tens of thousands of small businesses have been devastated by bushfires, but only 300 have received any support,” said Mr Mookhey. “The NSW Government is failing small businesses. These businesses and regional communities urgently need assistance, yet the Government is holding back the money owed to them.” “Gladys Berejiklian should not be trying to save her failing budget by withholding bushfire relief from small businesses and residents who are crying out for support.”

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