COVID-19: Announcements


Federal Government

8 May 2020: 3-Step Framework for a COVIDSafe Australia

This infographic presents the 3-step framework for a COVIDSafe Australia.

VIEW THE 3-STEP FRAMEWORK MORE INFORMATION

29 April 2020: Freight controller appointed

The Australian Government has acted again to ensure the movement of critical freight such as agricultural produce, medicines and medical equipment can continue.

Air Vice-Marshal Margaret Staib AM CSC (Retired) has been appointed to the newly created position of Freight Controller, as part of the Government's $110 million International Freight Assistance Mechanism.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the appointment demonstrated the Government's ongoing commitment to supporting the nation’s supply chains.

“The COVID-19 crisis has reduced airfreight capacity and disrupted supply chains around the world,” Mr McCormack said.

“More than 80 per cent of airfreight is usually transported in passenger aircraft and given the drastic reduction in those flights, we are acting to safeguard our airfreight capacity.

“We are working hard with many businesses to re-establish supply chains and secure the critical imports Australians need.”

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said with over 30 years’ experience in the Australian Defence Force and her past experience as Chief Executive Officer of Airservices Australia, Air Vice-Marshal Staib would bring significant experience with domestic and international aviation and logistics to the role.

“Defence Force logisticians are some of the best in the business and their skills have never been in more demand than now,” Minister Reynolds said.

“Air Vice-Marshal Staib will work closely with the International Freight Coordinator-General, Michael Byrne, as they seek to ensure Australian Government-supported flights during the pandemic are filled with freight in both directions.”

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham said the appointment complemented the Australian Government’s $110 million International Freight Assistance Mechanism.

“Air Vice-Marshal Staib will focus on inbound freight of national importance such as medical supplies, while Mr Byrne and the teams across Austrade and the agriculture department focus on commercially oriented freight such as premium agricultural exports,” Minister Birmingham said.

“Maintaining our airfreight capacity is crucial to keeping businesses open and protecting livelihoods through this crisis and will be a critical part of our economic recovery.

“By maximising coordination efforts we can ensure our farmers and fishers can get their high-quality produce on flights and into key overseas markets while also bringing back vital medical supplies for Australia.”

On the recommendation of the Australian Government Freight Controller, Commonwealth funding will be used to secure airfreight capacity, for example by chartering dedicated flights to import essential medicines.

Joint media release

  • The Hon Michael McCormack MP, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development
  • Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC, Minister for Defence

28 April 2020: Funding lifeline for Australia’s zoos and aquariums

Australia’s zoos and aquariums will receive a much-needed funding lifeline, with the Federal Government today unveiling a $94.6 million support package to help them get through the COVID-19 crisis.

This funding will assist exhibiting zoos and aquariums with the fixed operational costs associated with the caring of their animals, while also helping to ensure Australian zoos and aquariums can remain viable and ready to welcome visitors when restrictions are eased. 

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said zoos and aquariums would continue to be crucial to the visitor economies of many regional towns across Australia when their doors open again.

“Whether it be Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, the Ocean Park Aquarium over in Shark Bay or the Darling Downs Zoo up in Queensland, these attractions are major tourism drawcards for our regional areas,” Mr McCormack said.

“Keeping our regional zoos and aquariums in the best shape possible as we deal with this pandemic will be vital to helping regional communities get back on their feet, sustaining local jobs.”

Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said the initiative would provide vital assistance for Australia’s exhibiting zoos and aquariums who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“This will be a lifeline for these popular tourism attractions across Australia who have had many of their revenue streams dry up during this crisis,” Minister Birmingham said.

“It’s absolutely crucial our iconic zoos and aquariums can still operate on the other side and play a major role in helping our tourism industry to recover from this. 

“We know our world-class zoos and aquariums are major tourism drawcards for many of our major cities and regional centres across Australia, with over 20 million visitors walking through the gates each year.

“We also shouldn't underestimate the huge positive flow-on effects our zoos and aquariums provide to our economy. They bring thousands of visitors into communities who then spend millions of dollars visiting other attractions, sleeping in our hotels and dining in our restaurants.”

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the funding would help ensure Australia’s zoos and aquariums could continue to provide quality treatment and care to their animals during this time.

“While COVID-19 may be keeping visitors away, zookeepers, aquarium owners and veterinarians continue to play a lead role in wildlife recovery after the bushfires, from treatment and rehabilitation to the development of insurance populations.

“At the same time, they are caring for millions of animals who live permanently within their network and this is critical funding to support the welfare of those animals along with the vital ongoing role zoos play in conserving our environment and protecting native species.”

Eligible exhibiting zoos and aquariums will have access to a grant that contributes towards up to six months of its animal welfare operating costs. This includes animal feed, enclosure, health and other specialised care expenses, and utilities directly related to the housing and caring for animals.

In addition to this support to help with operational costs, zoos and aquariums who meet the criteria will be able to apply for the JobKeeper program to assist with staffing costs.

Austrade will work with the Zoo and Aquarium Association to identify eligible members, as well as state and territory tourism organisations to identify non-members which may be eligible for financial assistance.

This initiative is part of the Government's $1 billion Relief and Recovery Fund to support regions, communities and industry sectors that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. For more information please see the Fact Sheet.

23 April 2020: New air freight network to boost agricultural and fisheries exports

A new network of 15 air freight service providers and freight forwarders has been established by the Morrison-McCormack Government to accelerate delivery of agricultural and fisheries exports into key overseas markets.

In the first three weeks of its operation, over 560 Australian businesses have registered their interest in utilising the International Freight Assistance Mechanism and agreements for 55 freight flights have already been secured.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development Michael McCormack said the network would allow the International Freight Assistance Mechanism to ramp-up assistance to exporters and re-establish global supply chains.

“The COVID-19 crisis has led to major air freight shortages and disrupted supply chains around the world,” Mr McCormack said.

“Appointment of these airlines and freight forwarders will help kick-start regular cost effective services to key export markets and enhance the capacity for full freight flights of agricultural products from regional locations.

“We’ve already seen lobster from Western Australia, lamb from Victoria and salmon from Tasmania shipped to international ports and markets.

“The quicker we can get our products off the farm and onto airplanes, the more Australian jobs we can save and the quicker our agricultural exporters can bounce back.”

Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said this new network of air freight service providers and freight forwarders would be crucial to coordinating international freight out of Australia until commercial passenger flights were restored.

“Around 90 per cent of our air freight, usually goes out in the bellies of passenger aircraft. With very few international passenger flights leaving Australia at present, our exporters are facing major hurdles,” Minister Birmingham said.

“Through the better coordination of freight out of Australia, we can restore key freight routes and establish more frequent flights to our key markets so our agricultural and fisheries exporters can deliver their products to customers on time.

“We’ve moved quickly to establish this network and are now getting on with the job of supporting our exporters to get their products flowing again.

“With a network of some of the world’s largest airlines and most reputable freight forwarders in place, we’re injecting more reliability into the system that will also help our smaller exporters to aggregate their freight into volumes so they don’t miss out on export opportunities.”

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said this was about supporting our agricultural and fisheries exporters who had been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis.

“We’re backing our farmers and fishers by making sure they can get more of their high-quality product into overseas markets,” Minister Littleproud said.

“This is about reducing the barriers our agricultural and fisheries exporters face, so they can get back to focusing on producing the best and highest-quality product in the world.”

Assistant Minister for Forestry and Fisheries Jonno Duniam said the network would be critical to helping Australia’s seafood industry bounce back, with over 120 seafood exporters already enquiring about the initiative.

“With demand starting to return, this network will be critical to helping our seafood exporters to re-establish themselves in key markets around the world,” Assistant Minister Duniam said.

A competitive tender process was undertaken by Austrade to select the network of air freight service providers and freight forwarders.

The successful providers are: Virgin Australia Airlines, Qantas Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Federal Express Corporation, Japan Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Qatar Airways, CT Freight, Schenker Australia, Kuehne + Nagel Australia, Air Menzies International (Aust), Toll Group and DHL Global Forwarding.

The International Freight Assistance Mechanism is part of the Morrison-McCormack Government’s $1 billion Relief and Recovery Fund to support regions, communities and industry sectors that have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

For more information, please see the Fact Sheet or go to www.austrade.gov.au/ifam.

Joint media release

  • The Hon Michael McCormack MP, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development
  • The Hon David Littleproud MP, Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management
  • Senator the Hon Jonathon Duniam, Assistant Minister for Regional Tourism

15 April 2020: Financial support to help Australian exporters bounce back

Australian exporters impacted by the COVID-19 crisis will now have access to business-saving loans between $250,000 and $50 million under a new $500 million capital facility to be administered by Export Finance Australia. 

The new COVID-19 Export Capital Facility will target loans to established and previously profitable exporters who, due to COVID-19, are unable to gain finance from commercial sources.

Federal Trade Minister Simon Birmingham said the COVID-19 Export Capital Facility would help trade-exposed businesses, including those from regional Australia and businesses in the tourism and education sectors, to get through this crisis and get to the other side. 

“These are tough times for many trade-exposed businesses who have been some of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis,” Minister Birmingham said.  

“Rising export costs, disruptions to supply-chains and loss of markets are some of the factors that are making it difficult for exporters to access vital commercial finance.

“We are currently in a difficult credit environment and these loans will provide a lifeline to Australian exporters to help them maintain their operations. 

“This critical financial assistance will help exporters to get back on their feet through helping to re-establish markets, or provide working capital support or help exporters purchase new equipment to expand their operations. 

“Helping our export sector to get access to business-saving finance is crucial to reducing job losses through this crisis and a critical part of the ultimate economic recovery.

“These business-saving loans are in addition to the significant steps our Government has already taken to support exporters and jobs across the sector to get through these incredibly tough times.”

The COVID-19 Export Capital Facility complements other initiatives to sustain exporters, and position them to rebound quickly, including the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Guarantee Scheme that will support up to $40 billion of lending to SMEs (including sole traders and not-for-profits). Under this scheme, the Government will guarantee 50 per cent of new loans issued by eligible lenders to SME up to $250,000.

In addition to the COVID-19 Export Capital Facility, Export Finance Australia will also provide assistance to its existing customers through access to credit and financial relief.

For more information on Export Finance Australia, including how to apply for finance, visit: www.exportfinance.gov.au/covid19 or read the attached fact sheet. 

Export Finance Australia - COVID-19 Facility fact sheet [PDF 120 KB]

8 April 2020: $130 Billion JobKeeper Wage Subsidy Legislation Passed

After passing through a reduced House of Representatives this afternoon, the Senate has tonight passed the $130 billion wage subsidy legislation that the Federal Government announced last week to support up to six million Australians through the COVID-19 crisis.

Key points of wage subsidy eligibility criteria:
  • JobKeeper cash payments of $1500/fortnight paid to businesses to pay employees (roughly equates to 70% of the median wage)
  • Cannot double up if you are already receiving welfare payments, but can transfer from Job Seeker to Job Keeper.
  • Available to all Full Time, Part Time, Self Employed and Sole Traders. For Casuals to qualify they must have been with the employer for 12 months or more prior to being stood down.
  • Turnover of business will need to have fallen between 30% or more during the COVID-19 crisis to be eligible.
  • Payment will be made in May, delivered through the ATO.
  • Partner income test will be extended to $79,762 from $48,000 to access JobSeeker
  • Not for Profits and New Zealand citizens residing in Australia on 444 visas are eligible 

Click below for further details on:
Job Keeper Payment | Australian Taxation Office

SEE OUR FULL ADVOCACY ALERT FOR MORE INFORMATION

7 April 2020: Commercial Tenancies

The National Cabinet agreed that states and territories would implement the attached mandatory Code of Conduct (the Code), including via legislation or regulation as appropriate, to implement the principles agreed on Friday 3 April. The Code builds on the draft codes submitted by landlord and tenant representative bodies in the commercial property sector.

The purpose of the Code is to impose a set of good faith leasing principles for application to commercial tenancies (including retail, office and industrial) between owners/operators/other landlords and tenants, in circumstances where the tenant is a small-medium sized business (annual turnover of up to $50 million) and is an eligible business for the purpose of the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper programme.

National Cabinet agreed that there would be a proportionality to rent reductions based on the tenant’s decline in turnover to ensure that the burden is shared between landlords and tenants. The Code provides a proportionate and measured burden share between the two parties while still allowing tenants and landlords to agree to tailored, bespoke and appropriate temporary arrangements that take account of their particular circumstances.
National Cabinet again noted that it expects Australian and foreign banks along with other financial institutions operating in Australia, to support landlords and tenants with appropriate flexibility as they work to implement the mandatory Code.

The Commonwealth Government is also acting as a model landlord by waiving rents for all its small and medium enterprises and not-for-profit tenants within its owned and leased property across Australia.

The Rent Relief Policy will include a mutual obligation requirement on the small and medium sized enterprises and not-for-profit tenants to continue to engage their employees through the JobKeeper initiative where eligible, and if applicable, provide rent relief to their subtenants.

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT'S FULL MEDIA STATEMENT

2 April 2020: Early Childhood Education and Care Relief Package

Around one million families are set to receive free child care during the coronavirus pandemic under a plan from the Morrison Government that will help deliver hip pocket relief and help the early childhood education and care sector make it through to the other side of this crisis.

Under the plan, the Government will pay 50 per cent of the sector’s fee revenue up to the existing hourly rate cap based on a point in time before parents started withdrawing their children in large numbers, but only so long as services remain open and do not charge families for care. The funding will apply from 6 April based on the number of children who were in care during the fortnight leading into 2 March, whether or not they are attending services.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the plan supports families while also ensuring as many of the sector’s 13,000 child care and early learning services as possible could keep their doors open for workers and vulnerable families who need those services.

The plan provides funding certainty to early childhood education and care services at a time where enrolments and attendance are highly unpredictable. This, along with the JobKeeper payment, means services can offer free education and care.

“Relief is on its way for around a million Australian families and thousands of early learning educators and carers,” the Prime Minister said.

“These services are vital for so many parents so they can provide for their family, and children need as much familiarity and continuity as we can help provide at this unsettling time. Priority will be given to working parents, vulnerable and disadvantaged children that need early education more than ever and parents with pre-existing enrolments.

“This plan complements more than $1 billion we expect the sector to receive through our new JobKeeper payment to help ensure many of the 200,000 vital early education workforce can stay connected to services.

“It means building a bridge for these valuable services to the other side of this virus so they can continue to play their valuable role in our workforce and education systems and so Australia can bounce back strongly.”

The plan means the sector is expected to receive $1.6 billion over the coming three months from taxpayer subsidies because of the March 2 baseline that has been set, compared to an estimated $1.3 billion if current revenues and subsidies had continued based on the existing system and the significant reduction of enrolments the sector has seen.

The new system will see payments start flowing at the end of next week. The system will be reviewed after one month, with an extension to be considered after three months. The payments will be paid in lieu of the Child Care (CCS) and Additional Child Care Subsidy payments.

Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the assistance package would ensure services remained open to serve families that needed to work and to support vulnerable children.

“The Federal Government is working with states and territories and the sector to minimise the impact of coronavirus,” Mr Tehan said.

“The states and territories are looking at how to reduce the regulatory burden on the child care services which will further help them to remain viable. The Education Council of the country’s education ministers as well as National Cabinet will address regulation this week.

“This package will help support families during these difficult times, particularly those who have lost their job and are doing it tough.

Until the payments arrive, we are allowing services to waive gap fees for families who keep their children home, and families will be able to use the 20 extra absence days the government has funded for coronavirus related reasons without giving up their place in a child care centre.

“If you have terminated your enrolment since 17 February, then I encourage you to get back in contact with your centre and re-start your arrangements. Re-starting your enrolment will not require you to send your child to child care and it certainly won’t require you to pay a gap fee. Re-starting your enrolment will, however, hold your place for that point in time when things start to normalise, and you are ready to take your child back to their centre.”

“We will also make payments of higher amounts available in exceptional circumstances, such as where greater funding is required to meet the needs of emergency workers or vulnerable children.

“The Government is also providing certainty to the preschool sector in recognition of its importance to a student’s formal education.”

The Morrison Government will also provide $453.2 million for preschools in 2021 to support almost 350,000 children to attend preschool. The funding injection comes on top of the $3.2 billion the government has delivered for preschool education since 2014.

There is a range of government assistance available to early learning and child care operators. Most services operate as small businesses, with 79.9 per cent of providers operating a single service, while 95.9 per cent operating fewer than five. The available assistance includes:

  • The $130 billion JobKeeper payment
  • A cash flow boost of at least $20,000 and up to $100,000 with payments equal to 100 per cent of businesses’ and not-for-profits’ salary and wages withheld
  • Loan guarantees so businesses can get working capital

National Cabinet is also considering short-term intervention for commercial tenancy arrangements. 

Child care services seeking health and situation information about COVID-19 should contact the 24/7 National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080. Information is also available from https://www.dese.gov.au/news/coronavirus-covid-19

1 April 2020: Funding boost to support Australian exporters and tourism businesses

The Morrison Government will inject an extra $49.8 million into the Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) program in the 2019-20 financial year, allowing exporters and tourism businesses to get additional reimbursements for costs incurred in marketing their products and services around the world.

Federal Trade and Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said today’s funding boost would provide much needed relief and a timely cash flow injection for exporters and tourism businesses within the scheme who were doing it tough.

“We recognise the current COVID-19 crisis is placing immense pressure on Australian exporters and tourism businesses, many of whom felt the earliest and deepest aspects of the economic downturn,” Minister Birmingham said.

“This funding injection will put more cash in the pockets of thousands of Australian businesses when they need it most.

“The EMDG scheme has been a popular vehicle to support the costs associated in reaching new markets, and this additional funding will give Australian exporters and tourism businesses extra help in these tough times.

“It means businesses within the scheme who have spent their own money to market and grow Australian exports will receive more of that money back, up to 50 per cent of their total eligible marketing expenses.

“This investment addresses the reality that businesses invested in good faith to lift Australia’s exports, but are unlikely to see immediate return on those investments. These entrepreneurial and outward looking businesses will be crucial to our future economic recovery.

“This extra $49.8 million to supplement the additional $60 million already committed by

the Morrison Government will bring EMDG funding to its highest level in more than 20 years at $207.7 million for the 2019-20 financial year.

“This support is in addition to other measures our Government has announced to help small and medium businesses manage cash flow challenges and retain employees such as increasing the instant asset write-off, cash payments of up to $100 000 and supporting apprentices.”

Any business which has incurred eligible EMDG expenses for promotional activities in 2019-20 financial year will be able to seek reimbursement for 50 per cent of these expenses without the Export Performance Test applying, when they apply from July 1.

This is in recognition that many exporters would have spent more on marketing expenses with the expectation they would see export income high enough to meet the export performance test.

Over 200 businesses that will benefit from this change are in the tourism sector, one of the hardest hit sectors of the economy.

Additionally, applications lodged in the 2020-21 financial year can claim expenses even if events have been cancelled due to circumstances beyond a business’s control.

The Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) scheme is a key Government financial assistance program to help aspiring and current exporters grow their business overseas. Last year alone, almost 4000 Small and Medium Enterprises accessed the EMDG scheme, employing almost 70,000 Australians and generating exports worth $3.8 billion.

Further information on the EMDG scheme and how to apply can be found at: www.austrade.gov.au/Australian/Export/Export-Grants.

31 March 2020: Update from Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash

Relaxing the Partner Income Test for JobSeeker Payments

The Morrison Government has temporarily relaxed the partner income test on the JobSeeker Payment.

From 30 March 2020, it will be temporarily increased over the next 6 months to $3,068 per fortnight.

This will ensure that an eligible person can receive the JobSeeker Payment and associated Coronavirus Supplement providing their partner earns less than $3,068 per fortnight, around $79,762 per annum.

The personal income test for individuals on JobSeeker Payment will still apply.
                       

$1.1 Billion in Payments to Hit Bank Accounts Today

Over $1.1 billion in Australian Government assistance for lower income Australians will hit bank accounts today.

The first round of the $750 Economic Support Payments will be paid automatically from today and progressively to eligible recipients over the coming weeks.

More than 6.8 million Australians will receive the first Economic Support Payment.

A second Economic Support Payment will be paid to eligible people from 13 July 2020.

For more information on the payments you can read Minister Robert’s media release: https://minister.servicesaustralia.gov.au/media-releases/2020-03-31-11-billion-economic-support-payments-hit-bank-accounts-today 

Ensuring Continued Access to Medicines During COVID-19

The Australian Government has approved a number of temporary changes to medicines regulation to ensure Australians can continue to access the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) medicines they need, as the COVID-19 outbreak unfolds.

We are also closely monitoring the impact of the pandemic on the supply of medicines, especially those manufactured overseas, so we can take early action to address any potential supply interruptions.

New temporary measures will improve access to medicines, reduce the burden on GPs and support social distancing and self-isolation.

  • Continued dispensing arrangements for the ongoing supply PBS subsidised medicines without a prescription will be extended to 30 June 2020.
  • A home delivery service for PBS and Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS) medicines is now in place.
  • Ongoing work with pharmacists, GPs and the States and Territories to allow medicine substitution by the pharmacist in the event of a shortage.
  • Restrictions on the quantity of medicines that can be purchased to prevent unnecessary medicine stockpiling.

These temporary changes will ensure Australians can access the medicines they need throughout the coronavirus outbreak.

For more information you can go here: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-national-health-plan-home-medicines-services-information-for-consumers
 

General Information

The Australian Government has released a Coronavirus app and Whatsapp channel.

The App is available on both Android and iPhones. To access the Whatsapp channel, you can go to the website here: aus.gov.au/whatsapp

For school closures (government and non-government) please refer to state and territory education authorities that can be found here: https://www.dese.gov.au/news/coronavirus-covid-19#schools.

For more information on Coronavirus and the Government’s response, please visit: www.treasury.gov.au/coronavirus or www.australia.gov.au. Alternatively you can contact the business.gov.au support line at 13 28 46.

30 March 2020: $130B Economic Relief Package

Wage Subsidy Headlines Additional $130 billion Federal Government Economic Relief Package
  • Additional $130 billion Federal Government relief package delivered over six months to businesses to support staff through a $1,500/fortnight wage subsidy
  • Payments backdated to 1 March 2020 and expected to flow from May
  • Brings total Federal Government support to $320 billion
  • Partner income means testing increased from $48,000 threshold to almost $80,000

Key points of wage subsidy eligibility criteria:

  • JobKeeper cash payments of $1500/fortnight paid to businesses to pay employees (roughly equates to 70% of the median wage)
  • Cannot double up if you are already receiving welfare payments, but can transfer from JobSeeker to JobKeeper.
  • Available to all Full Time, Part Time, Self Employed and Sole Traders. For Casuals to qualify they must have been with the employer for 12 months or more prior to being stood down.
  • Turnover of business will need to have fallen between 30% or more during the COVID-19 crisis to be eligible.
  • Payment will be made in May, but will be back dated today 30 March 2020. Payment will be delivered through the ATO.
  • Partner income test will be extended to $79,762 from $48,000 to access JobSeeker
  • Not for Profits and New Zealand citizens residing in Australia on 444 visas are eligible 

Click below links for further details:
Job Keeper Payment | Australian Taxation Office

READ OUR FULL ADVOCACY ALERTAUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT'S MEDIA STATEMENT 

29 March 2020: $1.1B for Mental Health, Medicare and Domestic Violence Services

More help will be given to millions of Australians battling the devastating impacts of coronavirus with a $1.1 billion package which boosts mental health services, domestic violence support, Medicare assistance for people at home and emergency food relief.

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT'S MEDIA STATEMENT

26 March 2020: Restrictions Lifted on Hairdressers and Funerals

Further Statement on Hairdressers, Barbers and Funerals from National Cabinet

Following the receipt of feedback on the practical implementation of measures announced regarding barbers and hairdressers it was agreed by Premiers and Chief Ministers at National Cabinet last night that the instruction regarding 30 minutes per patron will be lifted (effective immediately), but that the 4sqm rule per person must be strictly observed within the premises and that personal contact during the patron’s visit should be minimised wherever possible.

Also it was noted that in hardship cases, States and Territories can provide exemptions in relation to attendance at funerals, but only at the margin.

National Cabinet will meet again on Friday, March 27.

25 March 2020: National COVID-19 Coordination Commission (NCCC)

The Prime Minister today announced the creation of a new National COVID-19 Coordination Commission that will coordinate advice to the Australian Government on actions to anticipate and mitigate the economic and social effects of the global coronavirus pandemic.

The Commission will work cooperatively across private-to-private and public-to-private networks, ensuring the Government receives the most comprehensive advice to meet the challenges ahead to cushion the economic impact of the coronavirus and help build a bridge to recovery.

Executive Board includes leaders across the private and not-for-profit sectors:

  • Mr Greg Combet AM
  • Ms Jane Halton AO
  • Mr Paul Little AO
  • Ms Catherine Tanna 
  • Mr David Thodey AO (Deputy Chair)

They will be joined by the Secretaries of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Mr Philip Gaetjens and Home Affairs, Mr Mike Pezzullo. 

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT'S MEDIA STATEMENT

24 March 2020: Quick Links to Government Support for Businesses and Households

Quick links to measures available to small and medium businesses, sole traders and households under the $189 billion economic support package announced by the Prime Minister:

Business.gov.au support line:
13 28 46

Small or medium business with reduced cash flow?
Click here for more information

Is your business financially distressed?
Click here for more information

Assisting the economic recovery
Click here for more information

Employ an apprentice or trainee?
Click here for more information

Are you a sole trader that has lost business?
Click here for more information

Household finances hit by reduced work?
Family budget support

Payments to support households

For more information on Coronavirus and the Government’s response, please visit: www.treasury.gov.au/coronavirus or www.australia.gov.au

23 March 2020: New Measures on Social Gathering Places

The Prime Minister has announced further measures on social gathering places which will be mandated from midday on Monday 23 March in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Social gathering places to be restricted from opening from midday today include:

  • Registered and licensed clubs
  • Hotels and pubs licensed areas (not accommodation)
  • Entertainment venues, cinemas, casinos, nightclubs
  • Restaurants and cafes (to provide take away or home delivery only)
  • Gyms and indoor sporting venues
  • Places of worship

READ our FULL Advocacy AlertVIEW THE PRIME MINISTER's MEDIA STATEMENT



Stay informed of the latest measures in Australia, including social distancing and self-isolation, aged care restrictions and travel: https://www.australia.gov.au/

23 March 2020: Helpline for Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

From 23 March 2020, the Federal Government’s Business Hotline - 13 28 46 - will be expanded to provide specialist advisers and extended hours to support small and medium businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Operations at the www.business.gov.au 13 28 46 Contact Centre will increase from five days per week to seven days per week, and provide an additional two hours a day of support outside standard operating hours for the first month, answering calls from 7:00 am to 11:00pm AEST.

The Government is rolling out comprehensive, targeted assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and wants businesses who are looking for information to be supported.  

During these challenging times, businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 need readily available access to advice so they can fully understand the assistance available to them and their employees.

To read the media release on the helpline, click here.

For more information on the assistance available to businesses please go to www.business.gov.au.

Please also go to https://www.australia.gov.au.  This site will link you to the latest COVID-19 news, updates and advice from Australian Government Agencies.

22 March 2020: Federal Cash Rescue Package | Second Economic Response

We applaud the Prime Minister and his team for listening to the business community and today announcing an additional $66 billion economic response package on top of the previous $123 billion stimulus package, bringing the total Federal Government response to $189 billion.
  • Additional $66 billion plan to help save jobs and provide income support
  • Specifically designed to support SMEs hit first and the hardest from COVID-19 and cushion the blow to households

KEY AREAS OF FOCUS:

  • Boosting cash flow for employers
  • Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses
  • Increasing the instant asset write-off
  • Backing business investment
  • Supporting apprentices and trainees

READ OUR ADVOCACY ALERT



For further detail on all Federal Government support measures, visit treasury.gov.au/coronavirus.

18 March 2020: $715M Relief Package for Australian Aviation Industry

A major relief package is on the way for the Australian aviation industry.

The package involves the refunding and ongoing waiving of a range Government charges on the industry including aviation fuel excise, Airservices charges on domestic airline operations and domestic and regional aviation security charges.

These measures are in response to unprecedented and likely sustained period of falling international and domestic aviation demand related to the impact of COVID-19.

The total cost of the measures are estimated to be $715 million, with an upfront estimated benefit of $159 million to our airlines for reimbursement of applicable charges paid by domestic airlines since 1 February 2020.

AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT'S MEDIA STATEMENT

For further detail on all Federal Government business support measures, visit treasury.gov.au/coronavirus
or call 13 28 46.


Queensland Government

19 May 2020: State Government maps out $4 billion recovery plan initiatives

During the first day of Queensland Parliament resuming today, the State Government made a number of announcements breaking down it's $4 billion COVID-19 economic recovery plan.

Key measures under the plan include:

The $10,000 Small Business Grants initiative is a welcomed announcement for so many of our local businesses that have been highly impacted by COVID-19 shutdown restrictions, and this Grant aims to help adapt and sustain their operations, and build resilience. The State Government has outlined that the Grant can be used for: 

  •  Financial, legal other professional advice
  • Marketing and communications activities
  • Digital or technology strategy development
  • To purchase specialised digital equipment or business-specific software to help move the business online.

Applications are open now but will close when funding has been exhausted. Further information and eligibility criteria can be found HERE.

The Premier also today announced a $14.8M commitment towards the CopperString 2.0 project, fast tracking construction of connecting the North West Minerals Province with the national electricity market. This is a significant project that will drive down the high costs of power in the North West and ensure a future for minerals, mining and advanced manufacturing across our region. Importantly, it will also unlock investment opportunities throughout the North West corridor and the communities on that line. We acknowledge the CopperString team, Scott Stewart MP, Aaron Harper MP and Coralee O'Rourke MP for the announcement, and the Katter's Australian Party in particular for their strong advocacy on this project. This announcement follows the $4.7M from the Federal Government and Phil Thompson earlier this year to support the feasibility. More HERE.

Treasurer Cameron Dick also announced today that the State Government will not be handing down a budget prior to the 31 October State Election and will instead deliver a COVID-19 Fiscal and Economic Review in September. More HERE.

We welcome the State Government's update today outlining the first stage of their economic recovery roadmap and note with interest the Premier's intent to continue reviewing restrictions at the end of each month. This is critical to ensure our community can get back into jobs, businesses doors reopened, and industries firing again.

VIEW OUR FULL ADVOCACY ALERT HERE

9 May 2020: Queensland doubles funding for 12-month interest free business loans

The Queensland Government has secured an additional $500 million in funding for its program of 12-month interest free loans for COVID19-affected businesses, doubling the initial commitment.

Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the additional funding would continue to be administered through the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority (QRIDA), but would be provided through the Queensland Investment Corporation, supporting thousands of Queensland businesses and tens of thousands of Queensland jobs.

“Our 12-month interest free loans of up to $250,000 have overwhelmingly been taken up by businesses that don’t pay payroll tax – 86% of loans recipients fall below the $1.3 million wage threshold," Mr Furner said.

The number of applications for the $500 million program of 12-month interest free loans up to $250,000 meant it was oversubscribed.

In accordance with the terms of the program, applications were no longer accepted after the 18th of April.

“By working with the Queensland Investment Corporation, we’ve been able to provide an additional $500 million to fund these loans,” Mr Furner said.

“QIC’s reputation as an internationally-renowned investment manager gives us the ability to access funding in way that other jurisdictions might not be able to do.”

Mr Furner commended QRIDA for its work in delivering the funding.

“QRIDA has an established track record of helping Queenslander in their hour of need, but traditionally that has been through cyclone, drought, or other natural disasters,” Mr Furner said.

“The scale and complexity of what they have been able to deliver in a short period of time has helped protect the jobs of tens of thousands of Queenslanders.

“QRIDA will also provide free access to business advisory services for business who submitted a formal application but were unsuccessful in securing funding.”

The additional loan funding takes the value of COVID-19 measures committed to support Queenslanders’ health and Queensland households, jobs and businesses to over $6 billion.

For more information on the COVID-19 Jobs Support Loan Scheme contact QRIDA via contact_us@qrida.qld.gov.au or Freecall 1800 623 946.

8 May 2020: Roadmap to easing Queensland's restrictions

Today Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the National Cabinet have released a three-step plan to easing COVID-19 restrictions in Australia. Directly following this announcement, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has revealed Queensland’s roadmap to easing our State’s restrictions.

This is something that collectively we have been advocating for, and we acknowledge the ongoing engagement with our local members of parliament. It is positive to see movement from our governments on some form of road map for business. We understand however that this plan will still mean that many of our businesses will be unable to operate, or be commercially viable, for a number of months and we will be working through these details with you to ensure we represent your feedback to the various levels of Government. We will continue to advocate for region by region solutions as we go through this process. Businesses will have to have a COVID-safe plan in place, with templates available at Safe Work Australia.

Read our full Advocacy Alert here

28 April 2020: State waives $33.8M in land rent for farmers, tourism and clubs

More than 6000 farmers, businesses, tourism operators, and community and sports clubs, won’t have to pay state land rent for six months under a series of measures to protect Queensland businesses and jobs. 

Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said he had obtained the approval of his Excellency the Governor Paul de Jersey to waive more than $33.8 million in State land rent for 1 April to 30 September to help support business during the emergency.

“Business across the state are doing it tough, and not having to pay land rent is one way we can help them and keep Queenslanders in jobs,” he said.

“With the shutdown of travel across the world, our tourism sector particularly has been hit hard.

“There’s more than 90 tourism lessees across the state who hopefully can breathe a little easier now with savings on average of more than $30,000 each.”

Farmers on pastoral lessees will save on average around $3300 and some local recreation clubs will save upwards of $4500 over the six months.

Lessees don’t have to apply and those who have already paid their rent for 1 April to 30 June 2020 will receive a refund or if requested, a credit.

In situations where lessees have entered into sublease arrangements with another commercial business – the lessee is expected to pass on the appropriate amount of land rent savings to the sublessees.

Land rent relief applies to Land Act lessees, licensees or permit to occupy holders who conduct a business on state land. It comes on top of $2.5 billion in measures already announced by the Palaszczuk Government to support Queensland businesses and jobs.

This includes:

  • payroll tax refunds and deferrals
  • relief for businesses renting government premises
  • a worker displacement program to help unemployed people get jobs in sectors facing shortages,” he said.
  • a $500 electricity bill rebate for Queensland sole traders and small and medium sized businesses  
  • liquor licensing fee waivers for businesses that have had to close
  • rebates for marina and jetty fees
  • industry support package to assist large businesses ensuring they will be able to scale up when economic activity improves.

More information can be found at qld.gov.au/StateLandRentRelief or by calling 13 QGOV (13 74 68). 

26 April 2020: Restrictions to ease as recoveries increase

Some restrictions will be eased and some national parks will partially re-open as three new cases are confirmed along with a big increase in the proportion of recovered cases.

There are now 98 active cases with 926 recoveries and six deaths for a total of 1030.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said Queenslanders were doing a great job of listening and following directions which was flattening of the curve.

“So today I can announce some good news after discussions with the Chief Health Officer,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“From midnight Friday, we will lift some of the stay-at-home restrictions.*

“But can I say, this is a very small step that we need the public to 100 per cent co-operate with because if we do see mass gatherings, I will not hesitate to clamp back down.”

Also today:

  • Plans from two sporting codes had been forwarded to the Chief Health Officer for advice.

“I’m sure everyone would like to see sport resume but it needs to be compliant with health advice and National Cabinet will consider key principles next Friday,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“There is a willingness for everyone to make something happen, but it has to be safe.”

  • The Premier said state and federal tourism campaigns after COVID-19 needed to be safely worked through.

“We know how important tourism is for Queensland so it’s front and centre of our work,” she said.

CASES

New: 3  Total: 1030  Deaths: 6  Recovered: 926  Active: 98  Tests: 98,422

ANNOUNCEMENTS

HEALTH DIRECTIONS

covid19.qld.gov.au

26 April 2020: Partial re-opening of some National Parks

The Queensland Government today announced that some popular areas in National Parks in Queensland will re-open next Saturday, following a relaxation in guidelines from the Chief Health Officer.

Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch said public health and safety is the most important thing and with the easing of restrictions, people will have some greater freedom to visit parks and forests to exercise and look after their mental health.

“Over the long weekend, Queenslanders will be able to have a picnic and go for a walk in most National Parks as long as they observe the Chief Health Officer’s guidelines.

“The fact that we can re-open some areas is great news and a reward for Queenslanders doing the right thing during this pandemic,” Ms Enoch said.

The announcement includes the re-opening of summit tracks at Mount Coolum, the Glasshouse Mountains and Mt Bartle Frere.

“We will also re-open some popular day-use areas including Danbulla National Park surrounding Lake Tinaroo and Laguna Lookout at Noosa National Park as well as Queen Mary Falls at Main Range National Park,” Ms Enoch said.

“A number of popular swimming areas, barbeques and all campgrounds that are currently closed will remain closed for the safety of the public.

“For the moment, recreational areas including Bribie Island and Cooloola will remain closed to four-wheel driving, as well as the shut day-use areas on the plateau at Springbrook National Park.

“Remember there are more than 1000 National Parks and forests open or partially open in Queensland.

“Campgrounds will remain closed until the Chief Health Officer decides it’s safe to reopen and there is no fixed timeline on this at the moment.

“It’s also very important to remember that social distancing rules in these re-opened parks still apply. When you are out exercising make sure you keep at least 1.5 metres apart from anyone else,” Ms Enoch said.

Queensland Police Service can still issue on-the-spot fines for breaches of the Chief Health Officer’s directions.

Signage will be in place to inform the public of any local requirements to ensure public safety, but locals should check Park Alerts online for the most up-to-date information about closures.

A full list of those parks re-opening is available at https://www.des.qld.gov.au 

24 April 2020: $54M to support Queensland transport operators

A $54.5 million package that will allow regional air, bus and ferry services to keep running while social distancing measures remain in place has been approved by the State Government.

The relief package was targeted to keep air, bus and ferry services running in communities where some of these services are the only transport option. The funding package would also allow for the waiver of some fees and extend licence terms for taxi, limousine and rideshare operators.

The relief package will extend support to freight, transport and logistics companies too, continuing the existing freeze on heavy vehicle registration fees until 30 June 2021. Fees normally charged to drivers to cancel their licence or vehicle registration will be waived too. More information here.

9 April 2020: Palaszczuk Government moves to protect retail and commercial tenants

Commercial and retail tenants will be protected from evictions under a series of measures to protect businesses and jobs unveiled by the Palaszczuk Government.

Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad said the measures would be underpinned by $400 million in land tax relief for property owners, which must be passed on to tenants.

That $400 million comes on top of more than $3 billion in measures already announced by the Palaszczuk Government to support Queensland businesses and jobs.

“We’ve heard loud and clear the concerns of people worried about losing their home or business premises through no fault of their own, so we’ve been working hard to put protections in place to stop that happening,” Ms Trad said.

“Since February, we have announced more than $3 billion in measures to sustain businesses through the coronavirus downturn, but when it’s over, they need to know their shops and tenancies are still there.

“Whether they’ve been required to close their doors or not, many businesses have seen their cash flow dry up, making it harder to pay the rent.

“To ensure commercial or residential property owners don’t face undue hardship on their own, we will be offering a three-month rebate of land tax for 2019-20, followed by a three month deferral of land tax 2020-21 for property owners who agree to provide rent relief for tenants affected by the coronavirus downturn.”

A landowner can apply for land tax relief if they meet criteria including:

  •         the landowner rents all or part of a property to a tenant/s OR all or part of a property is currently available for lease; AND
  •         at least one tenant’s ability to pay their normal rent OR the landowner’s ability to secure a tenant is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; AND
  •         the landowner provides rent relief to an affected tenant/s commensurate with the amount of the land tax rebate OR if the property is unable to be leased, the landowner requires land tax relief to meet their financial obligations (such as debt repayments); AND
  •         the landowner complies with new leasing requirements, even if the relevant lease is not regulated.

Property Council Queensland Executive Director, Chris Mountford, said the land tax relief was an effective way for the Government to support businesses through this crisis. 

“By granting this relief, landlords will have a greater capacity to support tenants that have been adversely affected COVID-19, taking pressure off their cash flow at this critical time,” Mr Mountford said.

“We know the circumstances that landlords and tenants are finding themselves in vary greatly. A ‘one size fits all’ approach to these challenges simply does not work.   

“Today’s announcements are a demonstration that the State Government is stepping up and supporting tenants and landlords as they work this through.  

“The Queensland Government is rightly encouraging outcomes that ensure the economic impact is shared fairly among tenants, landlords, financiers, and the Government.” 

The Deputy Premier said the ban on eviction would be underpinned by new laws.

“We’ll make changes to legislation that will ban evictions on the grounds of financial distress, prevent rent increases, except in cases where business turnover has increased, and allow leases to be extended for the term of a rent waiver that has been agreed to by property owner and tenant,” Ms Trad said.

“By working together, we can protect homes, businesses and jobs as much as possible through this downturn.”

From next Tuesday (14 April) morning people will be able to apply for land tax relief, by going to qld.gov.au/landtax

The Palaszczuk Government has also announced a package of measures to ensure residential tenants don’t lose their homes as a result of COVID-19 hardship.

Queensland will move quickly to legislate to implement protections for retail, commercial and residential tenants.

The Prime Minister has released the SME Leasing Principles During COVID-19 as outlined in the National Cabinet Mandatory Code of Conduct, as attached here.

The Palaszczuk Government will consult with stakeholders on the development of systems and implementation of the code in Queensland.

1 April 2020: Stronger Border Controls Imminent

Queensland border restrictions will be tightened across the state from Friday to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Anyone who is not a Queensland resident or considered exempt from the restrictions will not be able to enter Queensland from 12.01am Friday, April 3, 2020.

And it’s important to note that people with an exemption must have a border pass prior to crossing the border.  

If they don’t have a border pass then they will be turned around

Freight transport services are exempt and will be allowed through without a border pass permit.

The restrictions will replace the current arrangements which enable people to cross the border provided they self-quarantine for 14 days. 

Additional barriers will be erected in the streets of Coolangatta to further enforce border controls.

Police Minister Mark Ryan said strengthening border crossings and reducing the number of people travelling to Queensland would assist in minimising the spread of the virus.

“Now is not the time to be travelling interstate unnecessarily,” Minister Ryan said.

“Unless you are a Queensland resident or have an exemption such as you work here or are required to travel for medical reasons, or are involved in freight transportation, you will be turned away.

“We are giving people plenty of warning about the stronger border controls that are being put in place.

“We are doing this in the interests of community safety.”

Since Queensland implemented border restrictions on Wednesday, 25 March, 19,760 vehicles have been intercepted and police have issued 1,451 quarantine orders to people crossing the border.

Commissioner Katarina Carroll said police were appreciative of the cooperation shown by the majority of motorists during the border crossing process.

“We know the border controls have caused some delays on the roads, however, we are very grateful for the majority of drivers who have been cooperative and followed police directions,” Commissioner Carroll said.

“The stronger measures will reduce the need for police to conduct follow-up quarantine checks for those who are directed to self-isolate when crossing the border.

“Importantly, penalties may apply to any non-Queensland resident without an exemption who enters the state.” 

For more information about border restrictions and exemptions visit: https://www.qld.gov.au/about/newsroom/queensland-border-restrictions.

26 March 2020: Coronavirus protections stepped up for miners, communities

Mining companies are being asked to step up their coronavirus protections for fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers, staff in mining camps and remote and regional resource communities.

Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said  all state, territory and national resources ministers had agreed that the resources sector was essential to maintaining a strong Australian economy.

“However, public safety is our number one priority and we need everyone in the community, in business and in industry to play their part,” he said.

“That’s why the Queensland Government has been discussing FIFO with resources companies for more than a week, and I’ve also been talking to the Federal Resources Minister.

“Resource companies have been engaging with the Queensland and Federal Government and are alert to these issues.

“We expect that all companies will continue to improve their operations and constructively engage with stakeholders, including workers and the local councils.”

The Chief Health Officer has asked resources companies to follow the public health protocols issued to date so that workers and communities are safe.

Extra precautions have been asked for workers in camps and those on the move, whether FIFO or drive-In, drive-out (DIDO).

In camps:

  • infection control in kitchens and food preparation areas. 
  • suitable accommodation for self-quarantine 
  • maintaining social distancing in camps, including for recreational activities, including outdoor sport
  • limiting movement of workers from camps and into the broader community
  • no more ‘hot bedding’ to limit contact between employees
  • cleaning each room thoroughly between uses, including changing and washing linen.

On transport:

  • avoiding close contact during transport, including reducing the numbers of people travelling on buses and aircraft.
  • thorough cleans between passenger loads getting off, and those getting on
  • temperature testing at airports for passengers boarding aircraft
  • people with symptoms not travelling, and to immediately isolate, and seek medical advice.
  • reducing FIFO and DIDO during the COVID-19 to minimise the mass movement of people.

All mines in Queensland are being asked to provide a COVID plan that covers their workers.

Companies will be required to submit specific plans to Queensland Health about interstate worker procedures.

QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT MEDIA STATEMENT

26 March 2020: Student free days for Queensland state schools next week

Queensland schools will go student-free next week, as the state’s education system continues to work to limit the spread of coronavirus.

Schools will remain open until the end of term on April 3, to allow for the children of essential workers to remain at school and for teachers to prepare to move to remote learning from home.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said while the advice from the Chief Health Officers was that schools could remain open, they need to start preparing for a potential closure in the coming weeks.

“This will not be a normal school break,” the Premier said.

“It is vital that parents take responsibility for their children during this time.

“Every Queenslander needs to do their part to limit the spread of coronavirus.”

The Premier said school would still be open for the children of frontline workers, that is workers who are required in their workplace.

“This is an unprecedented time in our history,” the Premier said.

“We will be asking frontline workers to go above and beyond their normal work situations to help us get through this.  That’s not only frontline health professionals and police but people who undertake important work in our supply chain like stacking shelves in supermarkets.

“School will still be open for the children of these workers.”

Education Minister Grace Grace said teachers, teacher aides and staff would use the reduced attendance at schools to prepare for a potential move to students learning from home.

“We are planning for every eventuality when it comes to this global pandemic,” Ms Grace said.

“Currently we have two weeks’ worth of learning available to students to use at home and that will be constantly updated for as long as necessary.

“These student-free days will allow our hard-working teachers and teacher aides to prepare for that.

“Those staff members who have genuine health concerns will continue to have flexible working arrangements, such as working from home.”

Minister Grace said early childhood education centres and outside hours school care providers would continue as normal.

"I want to thank all of our educators and staff across Queensland for the hard work they have been putting in during this highly stressful time,” the Minister said.

QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT MEDIA STATEMENT

26 March 2020: State Government joins forces with CCIQ to support small business

State Government joins forces with CCIQ to support small business

The State Government is increasing its efforts to help small business during the COVID-19 pandemic by partnering with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) to deliver widespread assistance throughout the state.

The State Government’s financial support will enable CCIQ to undertake proactive support to non-members to provide information on:

  • ensuring staff entitlements
  • managing staff working from home or remotely
  • managing workplace hygiene (workplace health and safety)
  • managing staff leave
  • managing cyber security issues
  • managing redundancy
  • managing business closures
  • quarantine measures
  • general advice on National Employment Standards, Modern Awards and the Fair Work Act
  • free employee guides and templates.

To access support from CCIQ visit www.cciq.com.au 

For Queensland Government information and support visit www.business.qld.gov.au or contact the Small Business Hotline on 1300 654 687.

QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT'S FULL MEDIA STATEMENT

26 March 2020: Daily COVID-19 Update (as at 7pm)

Overview:
  • As at 8am Thursday 26 March, Queensland has recorded 493 confirmed cases, 50 more than yesterday.
  • As at 3pm Thursday 26 March, Australia has recorded 2799 confirmed cases, 376 more than yesterday.
  • Queensland has recorded its first death, a 69-year-old man from Toowoomba with an underlying medical condition in Toowoomba Hospital. He contracted the disease on a cruise. This follows the death of a Queenslander in New South Wales earlier this month.
  • More than 178,000 tests have been conducted across Australia.

SEE FULL UPDATE

25 March 2020: Campgrounds close in response to COVID-19 outbreak

Campgrounds close in response to COVID-19 outbreak

The State Government today announced the closure of all campgrounds in national parks, state forests and state managed recreation and protected areas, in response to the COVID-19 (corona virus) outbreak.

Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch said this decision is consistent with the expert medical advice of the state’s Chief Health Officer, with closures coming into effect from tomorrow. 

“As the Easter school break approaches, closure of the campgrounds will help protect the health and safety of campers, the wider community as well as Queensland Park and Wildlife Service (QPWS) rangers and staff,” Minister Enoch said.

“The Premier has been very clear that Queenslanders should cancel their Easter break plans and stay close to home.

“The nature of the shared facilities in campgrounds, like toilets and showers, is a significant concern in the current circumstances.

“There are around 470 camping areas in Queensland’s parks and forests and QPWS rangers will immediately be contacting members of the public who are currently at camp sites, and those who have booked a site.  

"This includes camping areas at K’gari (Fraser Island), Inskip Point, Cooloola Coast, Moreton Bay Islands, and all other national parks and forests across the state where camping is permitted. National parks in Cape York are already closed to the public.”

Day-use areas, tracks and trails will remain open at this stage and social distancing rules will still apply.

The closure of camping grounds does not include residential caravan parks. 

Increased signage will be placed in high visitation areas throughout the State to keep the public informed of closures.

“The health of the community is our number one priority and minimising the spread of corona virus is imperative.” Minister Enoch said.

People who have camp sites booked will receive a full refund for unused camping permits.

For more information please go to www.des.qld.gov.au

25 March 2020: $24.7M Coronavirus Housing and Homelessness Response

The Queensland Government will immediately implement a range of measures to provide support for vulnerable Queenslanders, particularly those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Queensland’s housing support package would deliver:

  • Safe accommodation for vulnerable and homeless Queenslanders needing to self-isolate
  • Brokerage funds for specialist homelessness services to provide crisis accommodation
  • Increased outreach capacity for homelessness service providers
  • Funding to cover replacement staff
  • Cleaning of shelters and funds for the purchase of cleaning equipment and PPE
  • Accommodation assistance for vulnerable people requiring self-isolation
  • Enhancing the Home Assist Secure program to provide support for older Queenslanders and people with a disability who need essential supplies and services.
  • Expanding access to private market support products for people who face economic hardship from coronavirus.

Anyone experiencing or at risk of homelessness can contact their local Housing Service Centre or the Homeless Hotline on 1800 474 753.

QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT MEDIA STATEMENT

24 March 2020: Further Assistance for Queensland Arts Sector

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch has today announced grants which will provide funds for individual artists and arts organisations to help them during these difficult times.

Minister Enoch said these initiatives equate to $2.5 million in support and follow the broader $4 billion stimulus package announced by the Premier today, as well as last week’s announcement of over $8 million in relief measures for small to medium arts organisations, widely welcomed by the Queensland arts sector. Eligibility requirements for QASP applications have also been broadened to encourage digital delivery into schools and communities and support small equipment purchases.   

Applications to the expanded QASP and Individuals Fund can be made from Friday 27 March 2020 – visit www.arts.qld.gov.au for more information.

QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT MEDIA STATEMENT VISIT ARTS.QLD.GOV.AU WEBSITE

24 March 2020: Update on Queensland Border Closures

Queensland borders will be closed by midnight on Wednesday 25 March by road, air, sea and rail.

Measures take effect from midnight on Wednesday 25 March 2020 and include:

  • Border road closures and police checks on vehicles on major highways
  • Advice to aircraft passengers at departure point that travellers to Queensland will be required to self-isolate for 14 days
  • Travellers arriving at Queensland airports to be met by police and other officers
  • Termination of rail services

Exemptions include:

  • Freight
  • Emergency vehicles
  • Emergency workers
  • Those travelling to and from work
  • Court orders including family court
  • Compassionate grounds
  • Medical treatment

QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT'S MEDIA STATEMENT

24 March 2020: State Economic Response Package

On Tuesday 24 March the Queensland Premier and Treasurer announced a $4 billion economic plan to provide further support to businesses, households, and health services in response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
  • Queensland State Government $4 billion three-point plan towards assisting business, households, and health
  • Immediate rebate to all businesses for February and March payroll tax and three-month payroll tax holiday for SMEs
  • $500 power bill rebate for sole traders and SMEs
  • Liquor licencing fees waived
  • Assistance for displaced workers
  • $200 rebate on household utilities

The $740M payroll tax relief package is one of the measures announced today that reflects one of the key items identified by our local business community included in the Economic Action Plan we delivered to our Federal and State MPs about the critical need for cash flow initiatives, wage subsidies, loans and support for sole traders. Whilst this is a welcomed announcement for a number of local businesses, several of our small to medium sized operators don't meet this threshold, and therefore need to be considered in the development of future initiatives.

READ OUR FULL ADVOCACY ALERTQUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT'S MEDIA STATEMENT

23 March 2020: Business Closures and Restrictions

To slow the spread of Coronavirus, some businesses are required to close or limit their operations.

Type of Business and Direction effective from 12pm, Monday 23 March 2020

  • Registered and licensed clubs, licensed premises in hotels, including sporting clubs - Must close
  • Indoor Gyms, fitness centres and  sporting centres - Must close
  • Cinemas - Must close
  • Gambling venues including casinos, nightclubs theatres and entertainment venues of any kind - Must close
  • Theme parks - Must close
  • A place where persons congregate for the purpose of worship or fellowship, including weddings, and baptisms - Must close
  • Funerals - Limited to one person per 4 square metres and social distancing must be accommodated including keeping 1.5 metres between people.
  • Restaurants, cafes, fast-food outlets, food courts (together retail food services) - Restricted to take away or hotel room service

 Retail food services that continue to operate must follow the below provisions:

  • Social distancing, including keeping 1.5 metres between people must be accommodated, implemented and monitored by employees or contractors of the retail food service provider
  • Gathering for the purposes of ordering or collecting must not exceed one person per 4 square metres
  • The retail food service provider may only operate to the extent they are not promoting or facilitating persons consuming takeaway food or drink on or adjacent to their premises

QUEENSLAND GOVERNMENT MEDIA STATEMENT


More information can be found on the Queensland Health website here.

For further detail on all Queensland Government business support measures, visit business.qld.gov.au
or call 1300 654 687.


Local Government - Townsville City Council

2 April 2020: Castle Hill walking tracks, Loam Island boat ramp to close

Townsville City Council is closing the Castle Hill walking tracks and banning motorised boats on Ross River in an effort to further encourage social distancing and help slow the spread of COVID-19.

 From Monday 5pm all Castle Hill walking tracks will be closed, with the Loam Island boat ramp on the Ross River closing tomorrow (Friday) afternoon.

 The move follows significant feedback from the community about users not adhering to safe social distance rules at both locations.

 Mayor and Townsville Local Disaster Management Group chairperson Jenny Hill said people needed to be more responsible.

 “I know Castle Hill is loved by our community, which is why we have tried to find a compromise,” Cr Hill said.

 While Council is closing the tracks, Castle Hill Road will now be dedicated solely to walkers and runners with the road set to close to traffic and bikes.

 “We understand the importance of people still needing to get out and exercise so the compromise we have reached provides a wider and safer path for exercising at appropriate distance from each other,” Cr Hill said.

 “Similarly, Ross River will still be opened to people who wish to kayak or paddle.”

 District Disaster Coordinator, Acting Chief Superintendent Glen Pointing, said it was essential that we all do our part to abide by social distancing restrictions.

 “Social distancing restrictions are in place to help keep our community as safe as possible,” Acting Chief Superintendent Pointing said.  

 “This includes staying more than 1.5m away from others, including when exercising. If you are walking up Castle Hill, be sure to give other walkers a wide berth of at least 1.5m. This is an important part of slowing the spread of COVID-19.”

 Cr Hill said social distancing restrictions shouldn’t stop locals from getting in daily exercise.

 “I want to encourage our residents to get out and enjoy their local park while sticking to the Federal Government’s social distancing restrictions,” Cr Hill said.

 “Townsville has three world-class botanic gardens to enjoy: Anderson Gardens, Palmetum and Queens Gardens.

 “Anderson Gardens is our largest garden, covering 25 hectares. It was originally an arboretum and has impressive plant collections to admire.”

 In addition to the gardens Council has more than 500 kilometres of walking and riding paths across the city and around the river which are great places to go for exercise during this time. 

 For more information about Townsville’s parks, head to www.townsville.qld.gov.au/facilities-and-recreation/parks-beaches-and-community-venues/parks-trails-and-camping.

 For more information about COVID-19, head to health.qld.gov.au.

 How to slow the spread of COVID-19:

  • Stay home as much as possible and keep 1.5 metres away from others.
  • Avoid shaking hands, kissing or hugging others.
  • Avoid gatherings that aren’t essential.
  • Wash hands often and properly.
  • Restrictions on gatherings - Public gatherings, excluding household members, have been limited to a maximum of two people. Households must have less than 10 people in them. Fines apply if people don’t comply

 Under a health directive issued on Sunday 29 March, everyone should stay home unless:

  • shopping for essentials - food and necessary supplies
  • medical or health care needs, including compassionate requirements
  • exercise with no more than one other person (unless from your household)
  • providing care or assistance to an immediate family member
  • work and study if you can’t work or learn remotely.

31 March 2020: Council Launches New COVID-19 Hotline

Townsville City Council has set up a community hotline to provide help to residents with questions relating to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The COVID-19 hotline is staffed with Council employees and will be available to assist the community in navigating official health department information and finding the answers they need, as well as responding to questions around Council’s response to the pandemic.

The hotline is open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm and will be dedicated to COVID-19 requests.

To contact the hotline, residents can call 4727 9666.

24 March 2020: Townsville City Council Venues to Close

Townsville City Council has made the decision to close its CityLibraries, Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, community centres and venues and its customer service centre walk-in service at 103 Walker Street as it works to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

VIEW COUNCIL'S MEDIA RELEASE FOR MORE INFO

23 March 2020: Townsville City Council Support For Businesses

Townsville Enterprise welcomes Mayor Jenny Hill’s announcement today after the special Townsville City Council meeting, which passed a multi-million dollar support package targeted at providing extra support to businesses during an exceptionally difficult and distressing time in the City.

The package, worth up to $30 million includes the following:

  • Deferral of rates
  • Deferral of fees and charges for sporting clubs and associations
  • Deferral of pedestal charges
  • Council facilitating the refund of all Civic Theatre show tickets through the TicketShop
  • Refunds for Council venues for cancelled events
  • Al Fresco dining fees fixed to $0
  • Food Act 2006 fees fixed to $0
  • Temporary Food Stalls/Premises fees fixed to $0
  • Refunds granted for Community Centres for cancelled bookings
  • Rent relief to June 30 for commercial leases
  • Trade waste licence fees fixed to $0
  • Free parking in the CBD
  • Changes to invoicing policies will ensure contractors are paid within 14 days, and
  • Reduction in developer application fees

VISIT COUNCIL'S WEBSITE FOR MORE INFO

For further details, contact Townsville City Council on 13 48 10


Other Business Support

7 April 2020: Tax Deduction if you work from home

Australians working from home will be able to claim a flat rate deduction at tax time to cover their expenses.

The Australian Taxation Office will allow workers to claim 80 cents per hour instead of calculating specific costs.

Multiple people living in the same house can all claim the new rate.

“The shortcut method provides a rate of 80 cents per hour and will only require you to keep a record of the number of hours worked from home,” ATO assistant commissioner Karen Foat said.

“This recognises that many taxpayers are working from home for the first time and makes claiming a deduction much easier.

“If you choose to use this shortcut method, all you need to do is keep a record of the hours you worked from home as evidence of your claim.”

VISIT THE ATO'S WEBSITE FOR MORE DETAILS

3 April 2020: Summary of Bank Concessions

ANZ
  • Defer term loan payments for six months
  • All affected customers can request a six-month payment deferral on loan repayments for term loans, with interest capitalised.
  • 12-month temporary increase in overdraft facilities
  • Temporary increases in overdraft facilities for 12 months.
  • Variable interest rates dropped by 0.25%
  • Decreased the variable interest rate on small business loans in Australia by 0.25% p.a. effective from 27 March 2020. 
  • From 6 April 2020, you can apply for the following lending options, depending on the specific needs of your business:
    • A new three-year business loan of up to $250,000, with a six-month deferral on repayments (interest will be capitalised)

    • A new six-month business overdraft of up to $250,000, with a six-month deferral of interest. At the end of the six months, you will have the option of fully repaying the overdraft or rolling the balance into a term loan for up to 2.5 years

Available for new lending only from 6 April 2020, approved by 30 September 2020.
The loan must be used to support your current and upcoming business cash flow needs only (including working capital, liquidity and operating expenditure)

https://www.anz.com.au/business/covid-19/


Commbank
  • Defer your business loan under $5 million
  • Automatic deferral of payments for April, May and June 2020, unless requested not to.  They will contact customers at the end of this three months to see if they need an additional 3 months.  Only loans up to $5M.
  • Defer your business loan between $5-10 million
  • Eligible business customers can choose to defer repayments for loan limits between $5-10M for up to 6 months
  • Defer your home loan
  • Repayments can be deferred for 6 months but with fees, interest and an extension on loan term.
  • Take a new loan (Flow of Credit Scheme)
  • Best variable interest rate offered 4.5%p.a.
  • Waive your Merchant Fees

Further support for our home loan and credit card customers

During these uncertain times we want our customers to know they can continue to count on us. 

Today we are making changes to further support our home loan and credit card customers who have been impacted by coronavirus.

For our home loan customers who have been granted a six month home loan deferral, we will make a one-time payment to offset interest on interest costs during the six month deferral period. 

We also understand some of our customers have been unable to make their minimum credit card repayments in March. We’ll automatically be refunding the late fees and interest for any customers who were unable to make their minimum repayment in March.

We’re committed to supporting our customers through this challenging time. 

https://www.commbank.com.au/latest/coronavirus.html


Westpac
  • Business loan repayment deferral
  • Loan repayments can be deferred up to 6 months. Conditions apply such as the capitalisation of interest, term extensions and who is eligible.  Landlords assisting tenants are eligible.
  • New business loans and Flow of Credit Scheme
  • 2% p.a. interest rate reduction on overdrafts for new and existing customers, effective Monday 6 April 2020.
  • 1% p.a. interest rate reduction for small business cash-based loans for new and existing customers, effective Monday 6 April 2020.
  • Merchant terminal fee relief
  • New Business Term Deposit – 1.7% p.a. for 12 months
  • Deferrals are available for certain credit card customers

NAB
  • Can apply for merchant terminal fee waiver or deferral.
  • Can choose to defer loan by up to 6 months
  • 1% reduction on variable rate small business options loans from 30 March 2020
  • Flow of Credit scheme – 4.5% p.a. base interest rate, variable

https://www.nab.com.au/personal/customer-support/covid19-help/business-support

3 April 2020: Indigenous Business Australia COVID-19 Support Package

Indigenous Business Australia have today announced a COVID-19 support package for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses, including tourism businesses.

Support for majority Indigenous-owned businesses includes:

  • Access to specialist advice – to help businesses navigate the COVID-19 crisis, including assessment of business position, cashflow management and assistance to access available stimulus measures.
  • Working capital assistance  - up to $100,000 via a loan/grant package which will consist of a grant up to 50% of the package value, and the remaining loan component with zero repayments for 12 months. 

This support will be available from 09 April 2020, however businesses can register their interest now here.

While there are numerous support programs for COVID-19, it is possible that businesses may still need help in other ways in order to remain in business once this crisis is over.  If this is the case for a business in your region, please get in touch with Kathryn Morton - Kathryn.Morton@queensland.com or 07 3535 5762.


"Welcomed opportunity to meet with the Premier in Townsville yesterday to discuss the fast-tracked measures on the r… https://t.co/JdPUubP6hd"

07:51 AM Jun 3rd @TSVEnterprise