Jacqui Felgate – Channel 7
While the Victorian and federal governments argue over who should help lock down businesses and workers, there’s a growing sense of fear about the extent of the losses. Bill Lang is the executive director of Small Business Australia. Bill, thanks for joining us. What makes you so angry about the Victorian government’s $250 million support package?
Bill Lang – Small Business Australia
Look, it sounds like a big number Jacqui but in reality, probably one in five Victorian small businesses are going to be able to access it. It’s going to be about $2,500 at best. It is a complicated application process to see if you’re eligible. And that cash may not end up arriving in your bank account for another four or five weeks. So it’s, it’s way too little, way too late and for way too few.
So how do you feel when you see the state and federal governments bickering with each other through this crisis?
Well think about this, as you know, 100,000s of small business owners basically offshore sinking and drowning, and they look up to the beach and what they see the lifesavers, basically throwing sand at each other and arguing with each other. So it’s incredibly frustrating, like small business owners are not interested in whose fault it is and who’s to blame. They need to be saved. They need some direct financial support from the organisations, the levels of government that are actually able to support them. So there’s been a small start, albeit late and not enough from the Victorian Government. We really want to see a Team Australia approach here where a state and federal government come together on $1 for $1 basis and directly help these businesses save them from drowning.
No more JobKeeper to, so what should the federal federal government actually be doing to support Victorian businesses throughout this time?
Well it needs to be a direct financial contribution directly into the bank accounts on a pro rata basis to those businesses that are being hurt the most, not some flat level amount of money, but a direct amount, and for over 12 months, a number of business organisations have been asking for this. You know, it’s one thing to have JobKeeper, which played a very valuable role for many employees and many small business owners. We need a small business saver solution, Jacqui.
And realistically, what are your members telling you about the lockdown? Do you expect an extension and what impact will that have on businesses?
Well, yeah, it’s every day of uncertainty goes on it’s more and more negative for every Victorian and particularly small business owners and their employees. You know, the latest news today would seem to indicate that, you know, the people representing the government is saying they’ve got a fight on their hands with the virus. I think the Minister for Health talked about creeping in to a couple of aged care homes. So the great fear is that this will be extended. We don’t know for how long because there’s no real roadmap or goalpost anymore like there used to be. So that level of uncertainty is very high. And if it’s going to be extended, announce what the additional financial support is and make it directly available straight away, please premier.
Bill Lang, thanks for joining us this afternoon. Best of luck for the week ahead.
Thank you, Jacqui.