Australian State Business Wants Snap Lockdown Support
CANBERRA, Australia — The northeastern Australian state, Queensland, government has not modeled financial support for workers and businesses during Covid-19 lockdowns lasting less than seven days.
The capital of Queensland, Brisbane, has had three hard lockdowns this year, with the longest-lasting four days in June-July.
Businesses have been calling for a support package for companies and workers in the event of another lockdown.
Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Cherie Josephson said 45 percent of business owners are facing mental health problems due to the uncertainty.
“Any support for business owners’ mental health is welcomed, but certainty around financial support is critical,” she said.
“Business owners need the details of the support that will be available should restrictions continue to impact them, so they have certainty in their recovery and journey back to business.”
The state government insists that financial support will only kick in when a lockdown surpasses seven days.
Acting Under Treasurer Leon Allen said the budget has not factored in long lockdowns in Queensland.
“There is a key assumption around no widespread or prolonged lockdown of a type we saw where the nation was locked down,” he said.
“What we have experienced (recently) in the southeast, then in Townsville, was short-term lockdowns.”
Victoria has agreed to share the costs of a scheme with the Commonwealth, which will provide weekly payments of AU$375 ($278.3) and AU$600 ($445.3) for those who have lost work with no liquid assets test.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the payments will be given out regardless of the length of the lockdown.
Up to 90,000 businesses will also be eligible for payments of AU$2000 ($1484.2) or AU$3000 ($2226.3), with the grants to start from next week as part of an AU$200 million ($148.2 million) state-funded scheme.
Allen said Queensland has not budgeted for or modeled for any worker or business support for virus lockdowns lasting less than seven days.
However, he said the state would base any scheme on those in other states.
“The information that we are able to interrogate from packages that have been designed in other jurisdictions provides us with the guidance that we would need if we were to pull together such a package,” he said.
The under treasurer said any support package would depend on the location and duration of lockdown.
He said support could also include payroll tax relief and business grants.
“So there’s a lot of variables there that would go into the design of a package though, you know that’s more of a design rather than a modeling approach,” said Allen.
There is one new case of Covid-19 in Queensland in the last 24 hours. There is a total of 1753 cases in the state.
(Edited by Vaibhav Pawar and Saptak Datta)