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Government Interventions:

Since March 2020, the Australian national government has announced a number of COVID-related business interventions. It has been estimated that upwards of 3.5 million businesses may receive direct assistance in one or more of the following ways:

1. Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment:

Each territory offers support to those citizens unable to earn an income because they are self-isolating or caring for someone with COVID-19. This includes a lump sum payment of A$1,500 to help during the 14 days of quarantine.

Each territory has its own requirements for self-isolating or quarantining, as well as eligibility requirements. Members of couples can both claim the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment, but must make separate claims.

For more information based on your specific territory, see the Services Australia Guidelines and click on your territory.

2. COVID-19 Disaster Payment:

This payment support is offered to people who have been affected by the latest COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in the Australia Capital Territory and opens for claims on August 20, 2021. Individuals in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and Victoria may also be eligible.

The COVID-19 Disaster Payment includes a lump sum paid to those workers unable to earn an income because of a state public health order, which includes a lockdown, hotspot, or movement restrictions. Eligibility and payment amounts depend on location. See Services Australia for more information.

3. Income Support for Sole Traders and Self-Employed Individuals:

Sole traders and self-employed individuals who have had their business activities suspended or turnover markedly reduced are now eligible for the biweekly JobSeeker Payment or Youth Allowance JobSeeker. These individuals will also receive a Coronavirus Supplement of A$550 each fortnight.

This expanded access to payments, as well as the Coronavirus Supplement, started being rolled out at the end of April and will be valid for six months. Candidates can claim these payments online through myGov or by phoning Services Australia.

4. JobMaker Hiring Credit Scheme:

This scheme is an incentive for employers to hire younger workers aged between 16 and 35 years. Eligible employers will be able to access the credit for each eligible employee hired between October 7, 2020, and October 6, 2021.

Registrations for the scheme opened on December 6, 2020, and eligible employers can make claims in arrears from February 1, 2021. Please note that claiming the JobMaker Hiring Credit Scheme may affect eligibility for other government grants.

5. Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements:

With this wage subsidy, any business or Group Training Organization that takes on an Australian Apprentice or Trainee between October 5, 2020, and March 31, 2022, may be eligible to claim 50% subsidy for wages paid for a 12-month period from the date of commencement to a maximum of A$7,000 per quarter.

6. Instant Asset Write-offs:

Businesses may be able to claim an immediate deduction for the business portion of the cost of an asset in the first year that the asset is used or installed. This can be used for new or used assets, as well as multiple assets.

However, the instant asset write-off does not apply for assets that you start to hold and start to use for taxable purposes from October 6, 2020, to June 30, 2022. For more information on eligibility and thresholds, see the Australian Taxation Office website.

7. Backing Business Investment:

For the 2019-20 and 2020-21 income years, eligible businesses can use the backing business investment — accelerated depreciation rules to deduct new depreciating assets at an accelerated rate. This applies to the income year in which each asset is first used or installed ready for use and can be claimed when completing your tax return for the income year.

See the Australian Taxation Office's website for more information on eligibility and opting out.

8. International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM):

This is a temporary measure to help restore global supply chains that have been impacted by COVID-19 containment measures. Eligible businesses can apply to get their products onto flights and to international customers.

IFAM creates a network of 15 freight service providers to support outbound delivery for seafood, premium red meat, dairy, and horticulture, and inbound delivery for personal protection equipment, pharmaceuticals and consumables, medical equipment and consumables, and inputs to health industries.

Interested businesses can register their interest on the Australian Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment's website.

9. SME Recovery Loan Scheme:

This scheme is only available to recipients of the JobKeeper payments between January 4, 2021, and March 28, 2021, and to businesses located or operating in the Local Government Areas that were impacted by the floods of March 2021.

These loans, available from April 1, 2021, to December 31, 2021, will provide cheaper credit so that SMEs can access funding to maintain and grow their businesses. The Government will guarantee 80% of the loan amount.

Deferment of Loan Repayments:

On March 20, 2020, Anna Bligh, CEO of the Australian Banking Association, announced that small businesses affected by COVID-19 could have their loan repayments deferred for six months. The offer applies to over A$100 billion in existing loans. Depending on the uptake, it is thought that this could put up to A$8 billion back into small businesses.

Note that interest will accrue during the six-month window.

Once businesses reach the end of the repayment holiday, they can either:

  • Start repaying their loans if they are able to, or
  • Have their loans restructured or varied so that they can begin to repay their debt, or
  • Request an additional four-month repayment holiday, or
  • Apply for assistance through their lender's financial hardship framework, which should help determine the most favorable long-term solution.

On August 12, 2021, the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) granted permission for the Australian Banking Association to continue working with banks to supply COVID-19 relief measures for further outbreaks, as required.

Further details are available on the Australian Banking Association's website.

The aforementioned interventions are available to businesses across the nation. Worth noting, however, is that there are various state and territory-specific initiatives. We've included some of the most prominent ones below.

The Australian Capital Territory:

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) government has devised and instituted the COVID-19 Economic Survival Package, which is intended to help sustain SMBs as well as families and households. The multifaceted initiative includes the following support for businesses:

  • Indigenous businesses affected by COVID-19 will be provided with specialist advice and funding of up to A$200,000.

  • An economic survival package which includes: up to four hours of specialist advice and online access to resources, rebate of water and sewerage charges for hotels and other accommodations, waivers for food registration and liquor licensing fees, waivers for business licensing fees, waivers for ride-share and taxi licensing fees, payroll tax deferrals, and rebate for commercial general rates.

  • Live music venues can apply for funding of up to A$100,000 until August 9, 2021, to recover and return to operations after the COVID-19 impacts.

  • Accommodation providers and private tourism operators who have experienced a significant loss of revenue can apply for a full rebate on their fixed water and sewerage charges for the first two quarters of the 2021-22 income year. Applications close September 17, 2021.

  • Small tourism operators affected by the border closures can apply for recovery funding of up to A$15,000 until September 17, 2021.

New South Wales:

The New South Wales (NSW) government has rolled out an economic stimulus package that is designed to support SMBs. The most salient aspects include:

Tax Relief:

  • The tax-free threshold has been raised from A$900,000 to A$1 million for the 2020–2021 financial year.
  • Businesses with payrolls over A$10 million will have their annual tax liability reduced by 25%.

Support for Indigenous Businesses:

  • Indigenous businesses impacted by COVID-19 can access specialist advice to navigate the COVID-19 crisis and access available stimulus packages.
  • These businesses can apply for funding of up to A$200,000 in the form of a loan or grant package to assist with working capital.

The COVID-19 Business Grant:

NSW-based small businesses, sole-traders, and nonprofits will be eligible for a one-off grant worth between A$7,500 and A$15,000 if they:

  • Have an NSW-registered Australian Business Number.
  • Were operating in NSW as at June 1, 2021.
  • Had a total payroll of A$10 million or less at June 1, 2021.
  • Had an average annual turnover of between A$75,000 and A$50 million for the year that ended June 30, 2020.
  • Had business costs for which there were no other government grants available.
  • Had not reduced their workforce as at July 31, 2021.

Interested individuals should apply online before September 13, 2021.

The JobSaver Program:

Businesses, sole traders, and nonprofits impacted by COVID-19 can apply for fortnightly payments to maintain their workforce headcount from July 31, 2021. Available funding will equal between A$1,000 and A$100,000 per week, if the business:

  • Has an NSW-registered Australian Business Number.
  • Was operating in NSW as at June 1, 2021.
  • Had an average annual turnover of between A$75,000 and A$250 million for the year that ended June 30, 2020.
  • Experienced a decline in turnover of 30% or more.
  • Maintains the employee headcount (for employing businesses) from July 13, 2021, while receiving JobSaver payments.
  • Can show that the business is the primary source of income (for non-employing businesses).

Interested individuals can find more information and apply online on Service NSW until October 18, 2021.

Fee and Licence Relief:

NSW business can apply for relief from a variety of licencing fees, including:

  • Liquor and gaming businesses can waive new liquor license application fees, pro-rata liquor license fees, annual liquor license base fees, and trading hours risk loading fees.
  • NSW fair trading will waive fees for paintball venue permits, tattoo parlor operating licenses, home contractor licenses, trade contractor licenses, and motor vehicle repairer licenses.
  • SafeWork NSW will waive new application and renewal licensing fees for pyrotechnicians, amusement devices, asbestos assessors and removers, and demolition and high-risk workers.

Land Tax Relief:

This is to help commercial landlords to manage their rental properties through a reduction of up to 100% in land tax for the 2021 tax year. The land tax relief will apply to commercial landlords providing a reduction in rent between July 1, 2021, and December 31, 2021.

Eligible landlords can find more information and guidelines on the NSW Revenue website.

COVID-19 Micro-Business Grant:

Micro-businesses, including small businesses, sole traders, and nonprofits, can apply for a A$1,500 fortnightly payment until October 18, 2021, if they:

  • Have an NSW-registered Australian Business Number.
  • Were operating in NSW as at June 1, 2021.
  • Had an average annual turnover of between A$30,000 and A$75,000 for the year that ended June 30, 2020.
  • Experienced a decline in turnover of 30% or more.
  • Had business costs for which there were no other government grants available.
  • Have not applied for either the 2021 COVID-19 Business Grant or the JobSaver payment.
  • Had not reduced their workforce as at July 31, 2021 (for employing businesses).
  • Can show that the business is the primary source of income (for non-employing businesses).

Interested individuals can find more information and apply online on the Service NSW website.

Export Assistance Grant:

Exporting businesses can access funding of up to A$10,000 to help with marketing, website internationalization, providing online delivery, tradeshows and missions, inbound business support, and costs to protect the business in an international market.

For more information on eligibility and to apply online, visit the Service NSW website.

Small Business Fees and Charges Rebate:

Small businesses, sole traders, and nonprofits can apply for rebates of up to A$1,500 to reduce the business's running costs, if they:

  • Have a total payroll of less than A$1.2 million.
  • Have an NSW-registered Australian Business Number.
  • Are registered for goods and services tax (GST).
  • Have an average annual turnover of A$75,000 or less.

Interested individuals can visit Service NSW for more information and to apply online before June 30, 2022.

Live Music Australia:

Live music venues can apply for funding of up to A$100,000 to recover from the COVID-19 crisis and return to operations. Interested businesses can view application dates and guidelines on the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, and Communications website.

Struggling to figure out which benefits, rebates, and concessions are available to your business and household? Use the NSW's COVID-19 Assistance Finder and complete the questionnaire to obtain tailored information.

Northern Territory:

The Northern Territory (NT) has adopted a multi-pronged approach to helping businesses weather the effects of COVID-19. Key interventions are described below.

  • Tradies and contractors can apply for the opportunity to supply goods and services to businesses, sole traders, and homeowners.
  • Small businesses can apply for funding of between A$2,000 and A$20,000 to help them prepare for the economic rebound.
  • Indigenous businesses can apply for specialist advice and funding of up to A$200,000 to assist with working capital, in order to help them recover from the impact of COVID-19.
  • Live music venues can apply for funding of up to A$100,000 until August 9, 2021, to help them become operational again.

Queensland:

Queensland businesses have access to a range of interventions. These include:

  • Tourism operators and hospitality providers can apply for fees and chargers relief for liquor licenses, inbound tour operations, and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park permit application assessments, and includes aviation route support.
  • Businesses impacted by the COVID-19 lockdown that start on July 31, 2021, can apply for funding of up to A$5,000. Applications open mid-August, 2021.
  • The Small Business Skills Hub will provide small businesses with free online training and learning opportunities if they were impacted by COVID-19, have less than 20 employees, and have a Queensland-registered Australian Business Number.
  • Individuals who hold leases, licenses, and permits on state land will receive rent relief.
  • Tourism businesses can apply for state land rent waiver or a refund of rent paid for the first quarter of 2020.
  • Indigenous businesses can apply for specialist advice and funding of up to A$200,000 to assist with working capital, in order to help them recover from the impact of COVID-19.
  • Live music venues can apply for funding of up to A$100,000 until August 9, 2021, to help them become operational again.

South Australia:

South Australia has also taken a multi-pronged approach that includes emergency cash injections, tax and fee waivers, job accelerator grants, and the awarding of temporary liquor licenses.

  • Indigenous businesses can apply for specialist advice and funding of up to A$200,000 to assist with working capital, in order to help them recover from the impact of COVID-19.
  • Business owners, supervisors, and employees in customer-facing roles in a variety of industries can take part in infection control training for a small co-contribution of A$15.00 per enrollment.
  • Businesses that have been impacted by the restrictions that were imposed from July 20, 2021, can apply for funding of A$3,000 for employing businesses and A$1,000 for non-employing businesses until September 30, 2021.
  • Live music venues can apply for funding of up to A$100,000 until August 9, 2021, to help them become operational again.
  • Operators of major one-off events that were affected by the SA lockdown of July 2021 can apply for the Major Events Support Grant for funding of up to A$25,000. Applications close October 17, 2021.
  • Liquor license holders can apply for fee waivers for the annual licensing fees for 2020-21.
  • Businesses that hire apprentices and trainees can apply for a variety of funding initiatives and support.
  • Eligible businesses can apply for various tax relief measures, such as a payroll tax waiver, land tax relief, and land tax deferral.

Tasmania:

The Tasmanian government has devised a Support and Stimulus Package that is designed to provide socio-economic aid to businesses within the area. The most salient components of this package include:

Business Growth Loan Scheme:

Businesses can apply for loans from A$20,000 to A$3 million until September 14, 2021 if they:

  • Have a Tasmanian-registered Australian Business Number and are registered for GST.
  • Are located in Tasmania and support Tasmanian employment.
  • Have an average turnover of less than A$10 million over the last two fiscal years, or have a projected average turnover of A$10 million for their first two years of operation.
  • Have a history of pre-COVID profitability or can show sound prospects.
  • Can confirm that their statutory payments were up to date pre-COVID.

Tax Relief Measures:

Eligible businesses can apply for various tax relief measures, including:

  • Payroll tax waiver for the 2019-20 fiscal year for businesses with a combined payroll of up to A$5 million.
  • Payroll tax waiver for the 2019-20 fiscal year for the hospitality, tourism, and seafood industries.
  • Payroll tax waiver for any wages subsidised by the JobKeeper payments.
  • A 12-month payroll tax rebate for eligible employers of new employees aged 24 years and younger employed between April 1 and December 31, 2020.
  • Land tax waiver for eligible commercial property owners for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Rapid Response Skills Initiative (RRSI):

Individuals and sole traders who have lost their jobs due to retrenchment, downsizing, or business closures can apply for funding of up to A$3,000, if they:

  • Have lost a casual, part-time, or full-time job in the last 12 months.
  • Can provide written proof of this loss of work.
  • Are an Australian citizen, a Permanent Resident with a Tasmanian residential address, or meet VISA classes requirements.

Support for Indigenous Businesses:

  • Indigenous businesses impacted by COVID-19 can access specialist advice to navigate the COVID-19 crisis and access available stimulus packages.
  • These businesses can apply for funding of up to A$200,000 in the form of a loan or grant package to assist with working capital.

Business Vehicle Registration Relief Package:

Small businesses can apply for vehicle registration savings, including:

  • Registration freeze for vehicle licenses for up to 12 months for businesses that are looking to suspend their operations due to COVID-19.
  • Waived registration fees and road tax for heavy vehicles of over 4.5 tonnes.
  • Registration freeze for taxi operators with registrations due between March 1 and September 30, 2020, if suspending operations, or they can have their registration extended for 12 months at no cost.

Liquor and Gaming License Fees, Discounts, and Reimbursements:

Holders of liquor and gaining licenses can apply for the following fee waivers and reimbursements:

  • A 50% reimbursement for the 2020 liquor license fees.
  • A full reimbursement for any liquor license application fees and grant fees paid from January 1, 2020.
  • A new invoice reflecting the 50% reduction for the 2020 liquor license fees that have not yet been paid.
  • A fee waiver for the remainder of 2020 for all those applying to the liquor license and a 50% reduction in any annual liquor license fees.
  • A fee waiver for the annual liquor license fees for 2021 and other liquor and gaming fees until April 2, 2021.

Event Ready Grant Program:

Tasmanian event organizers can apply for funding of up to A$5,000 until January 31, 2022, to assist in the development and implementation of COVID-19 safety procedures. Eligible businesses must:

  • Be an organizer of an event scheduled to occur from January 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022.
  • Have a COVID-19 safety plan.
  • Demonstrate how the event will benefit from the proposed COVID-19 safety plan.
  • Be planning an event that will attract visitors from outside the region in which the event will be held.
  • Be planning a financially viable event with a sustainable management model.
  • Be planning an event that will contribute to the cultural and social communities of the region.
  • Have a Tasmanian-registered Australian Business Number.

Live Music Australia:

Live music venues can apply for funding of up to A$100,000 to recover from the COVID-19 crisis and return to operations. Interested businesses can view application dates and guidelines on the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, and Communications website.

Victoria:

The Victorian government has developed a A$3+ billion Economic Survival Package that includes:

  • Funding for businesses in a Victorian alpine resort, Dinner Plain, or surrounding towns that were impacted by the May, June, and July 2021 restrictions. Applications close August 20, 2021.
  • Up to four 2-hour mentoring sessions by experienced professionals who can help with the economic challenges faced by small businesses. Applications close December 1, 2021.
  • COVIDSafe Deep Cleaning rebate for small and medium businesses of up to 80% of the cleaning costs (to a maximum of A$10,000) for decontamination clean by a professional cleaning service.
  • A one-off payment of A$4,800 for small business and sole traders in certain industries that were affected by the COVID-19 restrictions implemented from July 16, 2021. Applications close August 13, 2021.
  • Various tax relief measures for business owners and commercial landlords.
  • A one-off payment of A$7,200 per eligible premises for hospitality businesses affected by the July 15, 2021, restrictions. Applications close August 13, 2021.
  • Free online courses, live and on-demand events, and resources for small businesses to recover from COVID-19.
  • Specialist advice and funding of up to A$200,000 to assist with working capital for indigenous businesses to help them recover from the impact of COVID-19.
  • Mental health and wellbeing support for small businesses.
  • Free one-on-one advisory sessions for small businesses in Melbourne CBD, Southbank, and Docklands.
  • Funding of up to A$100,000 for live music venues to help them become operational again. Applications close August 9, 2021,
  • Training and support for dairy farmers to train employees during COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Fast-tracked, temporary outdoor dining permits for free for City of Melbourne hospitality venues.

Western Australia:

The Western Australian (WA) government has implemented various measures to support local businesses during the pandemic. Core interventions include:

  • Businesses that employ apprentices and trainees can apply for a one-off payment of A$6,000 for an apprentice and A$3,000 for a trainee where the training contract was terminated by a previous employer on or before March 1, 2020. Applications close June 30, 2022.
  • Indigenous businesses can apply for specialist advice and funding of up to A$200,000 to assist with working capital, in order to help them recover from the impact of COVID-19.
  • Small and medium businesses can apply for payroll tax relief and a one-off grant of A$17,500.
  • Live music venues can apply for funding of up to A$100,000 until August 9, 2021, to help them become operational again.
  • Performing arts organizations, live music event producers, festival organizers, and commercial event companies can apply for funding at a rate of between 50 and 75% of box office losses to a maximum of A$150,000.

Resources for Australian Business Owners:

Below, we've rounded up a list of national and region-specific, authoritative resources that business owners can use to keep abreast of current affairs.

The Commonwealth of Australia:

Australian Capital Territory:

New South Wales:

Northern Territory:

Queensland:

South Australia:

Tasmania:

Victoria:

Western Australia:

FAQs:

What is the Australian government doing to assist businesses affected by the coronavirus?

All arms of government have committed a combined total of A$189+ billion, which is intended to support businesses and households. Key business-centered interventions include cash injections into SMBs, accelerated depreciation deductions, wage subsidies for apprentices and trainees, guarantees on new business loans, and deferments on tax payments.

What is the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme?

Australia's Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme aims to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) obtain working capital in the form of unsecured loans. These are intended to help SMEs withstand the effects of the coronavirus. Under the Scheme, the Australian government will guarantee 50% of applicable loans. The Scheme was rolled out in April 2020 and will support all new loans secured by September 30, 2020.

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