Supporting Regional Australia through COVID-19
Tuesday, 24 March 2020
Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie says regional businesses, agriculture and tourism impacted by the ongoing spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) remain front and centre for The Nationals as the Commonwealth Government rolls out multi-billion dollar support programs.
This week the Government announced an extra $66.1 billion in stimulus measures which brings the total economic support package to $189 billion in assistance.
These support programs, which include an initial $1 billion rural and regional cash injection, were about keeping businesses afloat.
“We all know the COVID-19 situation is constantly evolving and I know many business operators and entire communities right across rural and regional Victoria already face an incredibly tough rebuild following this summer’s horrendous bushfires and sustained drought,” Senator McKenzie said.
“COVID-19 is making things even harder, these are uncertain times and it is important to remember those people still facing drought or rebuilding following the bushfires have not been forgotten.
“Likewise, rural communities who rely on tourism to support their local economy were also suffering the flow-on effects of the bushfires and this crisis had the potential to financially cripple them.
“The Nationals in government know rural and regional Australia is the backbone of our national economy and we want to ensure that when this latest crisis passes businesses right across the bush can bounce back.
“To this end the Government has made sure financial, and emotional, support services are available.
“There is no need to panic, our supply chains will remain open so our incredible farmers can get their fresh, clean, green produce to you when you need it.
“Our regional communities have exhibited such great resilience, compassion and ingenuity during the drought and most recently the bushfires and I am sure that together we will continue to work as one to get through this crisis.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said many small and medium businesses are the core of regional communities.
“The $1 billion will support regions, communities and industry sectors which have been disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19 such as tourism, agriculture and education,” Mr McCormack said.
“Our funding will ensure we provide the right support so industries and businesses keep going and employees can keep their jobs which includes the more than 3 million small and medium businesses as well as casuals, sole traders, retirees and those on income support.”
The economic stimulus package also supports $14.1 billion over the forward estimates for those doing it tough across Australia under a new income support payment, Coronavirus supplement, to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight.
This payment will be eligible to both existing and new recipients of the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance JobSeeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit and will be paid on top of existing payment each fortnight.
In addition to the $750 stimulus payment already announced, the Federal Government will provide a further $750 payment to social security and veteran income support recipients and eligible concession cardholders, except those who are receiving an income support payment that is eligible to receive the Coronavirus supplement.
“These measures are part of the Government’s plan to help prevent people from losing their jobs and keep businesses operation,” Mr McCormack said.
Further information about these measures can be found at www.australia.gov.au
PICTURE: Our farmers, like Andrew Bulmer, Bulmer Farms at Lindenow VIC, are producing plenty of fresh food.