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We need help and hope, now

Eurobodalla Mayor Liz Innes is calling on the Australian and NSW governments for an immediate cash injection as south coast communities face the reality of the New Year bushfires.

“We need cash in the pockets of people trying to rebuild homes or keep their businesses from falling over, and we need it now. We need hope,” Clr Innes said.

Clr Innes acknowledged today’s Australian Government announcement of grants and low-interest loans, saying they were a good start but marketing and investment had long lead times.

“I can’t stress enough, the Government needs to act swiftly. If it doesn’t inject cash now, the costs will be even greater down the track as businesses close and jobs are lost.”

The Mayor said Eurobodalla’s retailers were going to the wall because their summer trade never came

“Small businesses aren’t hiring in a region with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. And our tourism industry, Eurobodalla’s largest and normally injecting $464 million into our economy each year, has been devastated,” she said.

“Farmers are euthanising what’s left of their breeding stock, producers and growers have nothing left to grow and sell.”

Cr Innes said the early data, including that gathered from Eurobodalla’s tourism operators, shows the fires and associated road closures have cost the shire’s economy around $130 million in trade and 900 jobs.

“That’s just for December and January. As a community we faced down the fire emergency. Now we need help to confront the economic emergency,” she said.

“I’m asking the Australian and NSW governments to urgently inject cash into our business sector. As well as the investment grants and loans, we need payroll tax and BAS to be waived.

Clr Innes also appealed to commercial landlords, “Please consider rent relief for your business tenants”.

“I’m asking the Eurobodalla community to shop local. Let’s make that our new normal. Buy from your local butcher, fruit shop, the bakery, eat out more often if you can. Before you jump online for clothes and shoes and homewares, take the time to explore what’s on offer in your own backyard.

“The big hearts in this community are already doing what they can. We’re helping ourselves with local promotions like Love the Bay and Shop South Coast.

“We need the government to step in right now with money and hope for our residents and businesses.”

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