Weekly Digest – 16 March 2022

Welcome back to our Weekly Digest. Read on for the latest updates and some ideas to help us all move forward.

Entry Ban for Cruise Ships to Be Lifted

After two years, the government announced that it would lift its entry ban for international cruise ships next month. This could potentially boost a tourism industry impacted by COVID-19 restrictions.

New Zealand Opens Borders to Australians

Fully vaccinated Australians will be able to travel to New Zealand from April 12. New Zealand borders will start to open for other countries from May 1.

Nominations Now Open for Local Business Heroes Program

Australian small businesses are being encouraged by Australia Post to put their hands up to be counted as Local Business Heroes and share in a prize pool worth $285,000.

Entries are now open for the 2022 Local Business Heroes program, which will see 57 small businesses chosen to be promoted through the Australia Post network. More information can be found here.

QLD: $3,000 Subsidy to Buy EVs

The Queensland government will pay a $3,000 subsidy to electric vehicle buyers and build new charging stations to incentivise take-up, under a 10-year strategy to reduce emissions and ultimately help its net-zero commitment by 2050.

$500 Million Critical Minerals Funding

The government announced almost $500 million in funding to boost the output of critical minerals, aiming to diversify supply for its allies and counter China’s dominance of the global market.

Grants for Regional Sporting Events

Sporting events across rural and regional Australia are set to benefit from the government’s Regional Sport Events Fund. The fund is now open for applications and will support community sporting events with an aim of kickstarting local economies and encouraging visitors back after the impacts of the pandemic. More than 400 eligible LGAs across Australia can apply for funding of up to $50,000.

Business Assistance Package for WA Businesses

The Level 2 COVID-19 Business Assistance Package is available for businesses in Western Australia most impacted by restrictions. The assistance includes a $66.8 million Small Business Hardship Grants Program, $2.8 million of payroll tax relief for large hospitality businesses, and $2.1 million for a COVID-19 Commercial Sporting Franchises Support Program.

Safe Transition Industry Support Package

The WA Government has launched a $77 million Safe Transition Industry Support Package to assist eligible businesses and individuals in sectors most affected by the decision to delay the full reopening of WA’s borders. It includes nine support programs for the international education, tourism, aviation and events sectors.

NSW Unveils $1 Billion Support Package for Businesses

The New South Wales government has unveiled a $1 billion support package for small- and medium-sized businesses hit by the Omicron outbreak. The package will provide a payment of 20% of weekly payroll costs to businesses that can prove at least a 40% decline in turnover across January. Payments would range from a minimum of $500 to a maximum of $5,000 a week.

Eligibility Criteria for Tourism, Hospitality and Gym Grant in SA Extended

The South Australian government has announced the eligibility criteria for its Tourism, Hospitality and Gym Grant will be extended to include newer businesses that began operating after December 2020.

The payment will be:

  • $3,000 (for employing businesses) or $1,000 (for non-employing businesses);
  • Additional $1,000 for CBD businesses;
  • Additional $7,000 for tourism, hospitality and other eligible businesses with turnover above $2 million;
  • Additional top-up equivalent to automatic payment for businesses that did not receive the automatic payment.

The grant is automatically paid to businesses that have received a COVID-19 Tourism and Hospitality Support Grant or those that received an additional COVID-19 Business Support Grant. You can check for more available grants here.

Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment

People who are forced out of work to isolate due to being infected or being a close contact are eligible for the Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment.

You are also eligible if you are caring for a child under 16 years old who is a close contact or infected, or someone with a disability or a severe medical condition who is a close contact of someone with COVID-19.

The payment was initially given in the form of a $750 lump sum payment for seven days. However, this changed slightly from 18 January into a tiered system. While it remains a lump sum payment, those who lose over 20 hours of work will receive the full $750, but if you lose between 8 and 20 hours, you will only receive $450.

A financial hardship test has also been introduced, which means anyone with $10,000 available and accessible to them will not get the payment.

You can find more information about Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment conditions specific to your state or territory here.

Support for Small Businesses

If your business is struggling, the ATO offers a wide range of support for those affected by the pandemic, natural disasters, mental health issues, or financial difficulties.

Learn more about the available support, and the small business debt helpline for free, independent advice.

Get in touch

Contact us if you have any questions or want to discuss the next steps for your business.