‘A crisis that is only beginning’: $500 million lifeline as coronavirus impact hits Queensland businesses
The Queensland Government will find $500 million in its existing budget to offer interest-free loans to prevent local businesses from collapsing during the coronavirus crisis.
Greyhound Australia, which is based in Brisbane and employs about 600 staff, said it would be seeking one of the loans.
Chief executive Alex de Waal said his company, which has been operating for more than 100 years, is facing significant challenges like many others in the tourism and transportation industries.
“It’s having a profound impact on the revenue base of the business and as a consequence, the cashflow,” he said.
“We’re certainly facing some significant challenges at the moment.
“There’s no immediate end in sight, you’ve got a crisis that is really only beginning, we’re not certain about the timeframe.
“Ultimately we need to keep people employed and working. I think the Anzac spirit is definitely coming to the fore across Australia and I can see the communities rallying to make sure we can continue to pay our workforce and keep people in jobs.”
Loans of up to $250,000 are being offered to any local companies and the payroll tax deferral will now be extended to any sized company.
Mr de Waal said assistance from governments was needed immediately to soften the blow for companies across the board.
“The impacts that we’re looking at will expose the business to a significant decline in demand over a period of at least six months, with probably a six-month recovery period,” he said.
“If you’re looking at that level of impact and if you look at our tourism numbers, they’re currently down by 50 per cent — you can start to understand the relevance of the impact.
“It’s a huge assistance in terms of the payroll deferral … that deferral over a six-month period is going to save jobs.
“It’s definitely going to assist us in retaining our skilled workers and the business loans with the interest-free period … is also going to be of great assistance in terms of assisting with cashflow scenarios.”
Scrap payroll tax: Frecklington
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington called on the Government to scrap payroll tax altogether.
“The Palaszczuk Government’s decision to defer payroll tax payments is simply postponing the pain for small business,” she said.
“Payroll tax needs to be cut and cut now for the next six months.”
She also called for a major package for road infrastructure to boost jobs.
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“This plan would boost the number of jobs across Queensland and improve our roads which are in desperate need of repair,” she said.
“An unprecedented emergency requires urgent and a smart response.
“In the spirit of bipartisanship, the LNP is prepared to work with the Labor Government to immediately implement these measures.”
Treasurer Jackie Trad said the economic impacts were already “cutting deeply”.
“We’ve seen a rapid escalation in the impact of COVID-19,” she said.
“As the outbreak grows and intensifies, so too must our measures to protect the economy and to protect Queensland jobs.
“That’s why we’re extending our payroll tax deferral initiative to all businesses in Queensland.
“Any Queensland business, regardless of its payroll can defer lodging and paying payroll tax until the 31st of July 2020.”
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