Too little too late for COVID support package

Murray River Council has welcomed the NSW COVID-19 Support Package but says it may be a case of ‘too-little-too-late’.

The Berejiklian Government announced the package this week which includes grants of between $5,000 and $10,000 for small businesses, payroll tax deferrals for all employers and an extension of the Dine & Discover program to 31 August.

But council says the package doesn’t take into account the longevity of border business closures; with many businesses under restrictions for almost a year over the past eighteen months of the pandemic.

“This package has been put together because Sydney-based businesses are in lockdown, but our border businesses have been in limbo for far longer than our metropolitan counterparts,” Mayor Cr Chris Bilkey said.

“Whilst it is pleasing that regional businesses can apply if they qualify, it’s baffling that we just haven’t had the same level of support thrown our way earlier, despite our best advocacy efforts.”

With further uncertainly surrounding changing restrictions across the States, Council will look to call on State and Federal Governments to fund a study of the impact of closures and restrictions on metropolitan, regional and border communities.

“If assistance packages were weighted according to the impact on the different regions, our businesses might finally get the full support they need,” Cr Bilkey said.

“Media coverage highlights the plights of businesses in Sydney or Melbourne - depending on who is locked down at the time - but who is considering the enormous impact these restrictions have on the businesses either side of the border?”

“Murray border businesses suffer when COVID restrictions are implemented in both Melbourne and Sydney, so our Government needs to take a more focused view by treating border community businesses as a stand-alone sector and deliver more targeted support accordingly.”