Small Business Minister Margaret Quirk has labelled the Howard Government’s attempt at addressing drought relief as bureaucratic and prohibitive.
Ms Quirk said that unlike the Carpenter Government’s recently announced $9.3million drought assistance package for rural communities, Mr Howard had made it as difficult as possible for those affected by drought to obtain some assistance.
“The Federal Government’s Exceptional Circumstances Relief Payment for Small Business is too difficult to access,” she said.
“To claim the payment, applicants must demonstrate that 70 per cent or more of their normal total business turnover is from the provision of goods and services for farming activities in Exceptional Circumstances declared areas.
“The challenge for non-farm small businesses in Exceptional Circumstances areas is calculating what proportions of their sales were to farm businesses. This is exceptionally complex, bureaucratic and prohibitive.”
The Minister said about 500 small businesses needed help within the drought-affected area, but the Howard Government was only offering $2,000 in total assistance to these affected small businesses.
“The Carpenter Government’s drought assistance package includes $200,000 to help small businesses in drought-affected areas, up to $500 to help small businesses undertake a Financial Position Assessment and free advice and information through the Small Business Development Corporation and Small Business Centre network.
“That sounds like real support, unlike the Federal Government’s empty gestures.”
Ms Quirk said the State’s extraordinary dry conditions were now in their fourth year and were taking a heavy economic and social toll on rural communities.
Minister's office - 9213 7000