KCCI president Damien Martoo

May 27, 2020

South Burnett small businesses have been given nothing but false hope with the State Government’s COVID-19 business grants already drying up, Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington says.

Mrs Frecklington said support for small business by the State Government during the pandemic restrictions had been a debacle.

“Small business is bearing the brunt of the economic ramifications of the coronavirus restrictions, yet the State Government has neglected them,” Mrs Frecklington said.

“While most other States introduced emergency grants for small business almost straight away, it took until May 19 before the Palaszcsuk Government acknowledged grants were needed.

“And this was only due to sustained pressure from the LNP and groups like the Queensland Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“Less than one week later these grants are already closed.

“Many (small businesses) were still working with their accountant, or getting their figures sorted before they even had a chance to submit their application.

“It is completely unacceptable.

“There are more than 438,000 small businesses in Queensland, including thousands right here in the South Burnett. and the majority have not been able to access this support. In fact, just 2.2 per cent of small businesses will see any funding from this grant.

“I’ve been speaking with the Kingaroy Chamber of Commerce (KCCI) who are rightly concerned that our local businesses have missed out.”

KCCI president Damien Martoo said the $10,000 cash grants that Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced last week could have been a real game changer for local business who have for the past five years been battling the repercussions of a drought-declared region and now COVID-19 restrictions.

“While the announcement of the grants were very welcome by the business community to pivot, diversify and thrive, the ‘first-in best-dressed’ structure was never going to work for small and micro, mum-and-dad businesses who are continuing to juggle chainsaws during these times just to stay open,” Mr Martoo said.

“Let’s put some real investment into the real regions. Real grants for small business that are awarded on each individual application’s merit. Real funding to build transport corridors from the food bowls to ports and airports. Real funding for water infrastructure to give greater diversification in the agriculture sector.”

Mrs Frecklington also noted that around 97 per cent of Queensland’s small businesses have not received a dollar of coronavirus payroll tax relief from the State Government as their annual wage bills do not meet the $1.3 million payroll tax threshold.

“And then there’s the QRIDA COVID-19 Small Business loans mess, which closed to new applicants without warning on April 18. I know many businesses spent money to put in applications and were left worse off for having tried to apply,” she said.

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