In a doorstop interview with Member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips she spoke in part on the lack of bushfire recovery of assistance for small business owners. “For weeks and weeks I have been going on in this parliament and in this electorate because the money is just not getting through to our small business owners. “We've got small business owners like, for example, Vince who is a beekeeper, Vince and Maria. They have gone through so much but the guidelines just do not fit their case. They are not going getting the help they need. “We’ve got Katrina in Kangaroo Valley who has had to lay off staff. These are businesses, and this is happening all over the electorate. We just need more help for our small businesses. “At the moment, unless people are directly fire impacted these businesses are not getting the help they need. So we've got businesses out there that have lost so much income, for some people like Simon from the Ulladulla Surf School, I mean these are businesses that have lost over 80% of their income. We're talking about an unfolding economic crisis on the New South Wales South Coast. “We've seen jobs that are just going - people are laying off people. We need, we need some sort of help, some sort of assistance, for our small business owners that have lost income,” said the Member.
In response to a journalist's question “How likely do you think it is to get that extra help? And maybe how fair as well, because there are businesses that are struggling in other crises like the Coronavirus, the tourism sector has taken a hit, you’ve got education you’re talking the whole country, and many businesses that need help. "How likely it is, do you think that indirect affected communities will receive help and how fair is it that it’s isolated to New South Wales coast?" Mrs Phillips responded “Well what I know is that businesses on the New South Wales South Coast for months and months, this has been impacting everybody there. This is not something that will just go away. We need for real help for people there. If you go to the New South Wales South Coast it’s what everyone is talking about. It’s impacted everyone. It’s impacted tourism operators and that impacts people putting food on the table. In response to the question “Do you think they should prioritise these kinds of payments before talking a bit more specifically about payments for businesses affected by the virus? "Mrs Phillips responded “I think that everything is important. But what I know is what people are telling me on the New South Wales South Coast is they need help now. When asked “How much of that do you think, umm, do you think the Prime Minister gets it?” The response was “I don’t think he gets it at all. He flew into HMAS Albatross at Nowra, and then he flew out again. He didn't even stay to talk with people in my electorate. I've got people coming to me, they are so upset. They've had to lay off staff, they can't find food, to pay the bills, or put food on the table, and everybody is impacted. Whether it's the business owner themselves, the staff, people in the community. There's less people buying things. We want people to come back to area, that's a positive story and support our area and we're starting to see that, but we need to see more of that. The tourism money. I mean that hasn't even flowed through. I mean, where is it? “What I know is that the Government announced $75 million in tourism funding. But we haven’t seen it. I mean where is it? I’ve got tourism operators that keep ringing me. No-one can find the money? “They said that $75 million would be spent on Tourism grants for bushfire recovery and that's where it should be. We need more money not less.” ******************************************** For weeks, the Gilmore MP has been asking the government to address the unfolding economic crisis on the South Coast, and reports today that funding is not getting through are deeply concerning.
It has been revealed that only 108 of 654 applications for the small business grants and fewer than half of the applications from fire-affected primary producers have been approved.
The Member for Gilmore said "The criteria for these grants and loans are not fit for purpose in a tourism focused economy. Businesses have lost upwards of 80 per cent of their income and they need urgent assistance to address cash flow issues.
“The Australian and NSW Governments are squabbling while small businesses on the South Coast are struggling and financial help is just not getting through to where it is needed,”
“Local people need help now – every day I hear more and more stories of businesses on the brink, of people feeling traumatised by their government and I don’t want to see anyone falling through the cracks,” Fiona Phillips said. “We need to make sure that small businesses are receiving the support they need to manage their finances. We need to increase the number of financial counsellors available and introduce a voucher scheme for accredited accountants to help impacted local businesses,” Fiona Phillips said.
"Over the past few weeks, the cameras may have left and the fires may have abated, but communities still need assistance. It is imperative that businesses remain viable and local workers maintain their jobs."
"Labor’s suggestion can be picked up and adopted by the Morrison Government now to mitigate the pain and suffering from the current emergency, and help rebuild resilient communities in areas facing a downturn as a result of the disaster," the member said.