A Bushfire, Forest Is Really Bright Because Of The Fire, Litchfi
Credit: a bushfire, forest is really bright because of the fire, litchfield national park, australia
The Federal Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Michaelia Cash, is hosting a roundtable in Canberra today to hear from the small-business community about the impact the bushfire emergency has had on them, and what support they need in both the short and longer terms.
business will be represented by a number of its key stakeholders, to provide as
thorough as possible a picture of the different challenges facing tourism operators,
retailers, farmers and the thousands of small-business
owners, sole operators and contractors whose livelihoods are threatened by the
decimation of their communities.
CEO of The Council of Small Business Australia (COSBOA), Peter Strong, told Inside Small Business that the federal government are very mindful of the bushfires’ impact on small business, and that this roundtable is an opportunity to identify the most urgent action the sector needs and then start mapping out a strategy to help SMEs get back on their feet.
“Many small-business owners and
home-based sole operators have lost access to the internet and
telecommunications, rendering them unable to operate,” Strong told me
yesterday. “Business of all types are suffering, and they need immediate
assistance, followed by ongoing support.”
Australian Small Business and Family
Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO), Kate Carnell, will be calling on the government
to enact a number of initiatives at the meeting to help SMEs in the
bushfire-affected areas who are still
operating but suffering a potentially catastrophic loss if income.
“There are so many businesses whose
premises are not affected and whose doors are open, but who just don’t have any
customers,” Carnell told me on Monday, citing a coffee shop owner on the NSW
south coast whose output has dropped from 1500 coffees made to just 50.
“Obviously those business owners who have
lost their premises are in a desperate situation,” Carnell said, “and I urge
insurance companies to settle their claims without delay, but businesses still
operating don’t have that instant access to funds.”
The ASBFEO will be advocating these
measures at the meeting:
That big businesses pay any
outstanding bills so small-business suppliers immediately.
That big businesses look to
prioritise smaller suppliers in bushfire-affected areas to provide some income
to those suppliers.
That arrangements are made to
defer rental and utility bill obligations of small businesses in the short term
while their income is compromised.
That small businesses are able
to stand down staff until business picks up, with provision made for those
staff to receive benefits while they wait to return to their roles, rather than
leaving the bushfire-affected areas to seek work elsewhere.
That zero-interest loans and
grants currently available only to farmers are extended to the broader
small-business community in bushfire-affected areas to tide them over while
their income is compromised.
That Australians are urged to
holiday in regional areas rather than taking overseas holidays this year, and
that clear messaging is communicated abroad that Australia is still “open for
business” to reverse the trend of foreign visitors cancelling their plans to
Small business will also be represented
at the roundtable by the heads of the hairdressing association and the master
grocers among others, in a bid to help the government and industry put together
a broad response that addresses all areas of the small-business community.