The Australian states of Tasmania and Victoria have announced funding to support the recovery of local, small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tasmanian Minister for State Growth Roger Jaensch announced on Jan. 28 that more funding will be made available to the state’s COVID-19 Business Impact Support Program for small businesses.
The program, which opened on Jan. 19, provides funding to help Tasmanian small businesses that have seen a reduction in business due to the COVID-19 Omicron outbreak since Dec. 15.
Funding of between $1,000 and $5,000 is available to eligible businesses where a reduction in business may be caused by a loss of staff due to COVID-19 exposure, which has affected the business’s ability to operate, or a loss of business, due to reduced customer demand.
Support is also available to businesses that have experienced an inevitable loss of perishable goods.
Jaensch stated that so far, more than 200 businesses have been able to access more than $420,000 in funding assistance under the new program.
To be eligible, businesses must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan and a completed risk assessment in place and have been using the Tasmanian check in app.
Support for Regional Victoria
The Victorian government also announced on Jan. 28, a funding program of $500,000 to set up events and boost the local economy for regional business.
The funds aim to help the recovery of businesses from the impacts of the pandemic and bushfires in Eastern Victoria from 2019 to 2020.
“We know that our regional communities have been doing it tough with bushfires, drought, and the pandemic. We are standing by them, and this funding will support industry groups with their recovery efforts,” Minister for Regional Development Mary-Anne Thomas said.
“This program is putting local business collaboration front and centre to help deliver stronger local economies and create more opportunities and jobs for our regions.”
Grants can go up to $10,000 which will enable regional industry groups to host networking events and collaborate on ideas to help local economies recover from natural disasters.
State changes come in place as the National Cabinet on Jan. 27 backed the decision made by the Infrastructure and Transport National Reform Committee on Jan. 25 to alleviate the truck driver shortage crisis.
National Cabinet agreed that as a matter of immediate priority, “all states and territories will enact arrangements to allow New Zealand citizens to use their NZ equivalent heavy vehicle licence in Australia for 12 months” or less if the licence expires before then, before being required to obtain an Australian licence.
Since driver licences differ across states, states and territories will also allow equivalent arrangements for interstate Australian drivers to ensure Australian workers are not disadvantaged.
These measures will be a temporary COVID-19 response that will be reviewed 12 months after implementation.
National cabinet also agreed to allow asymptomatic workers in critically essential roles that are not customer facing, such as food distribution, to leave isolation and continue to attend work, which they say has seen improvements in the transport sector.