COVID-19 BUSINESS & INDUSTRY HOTLINES
QLD Small Business Hotline – 1300 654 687 – 24/7 – Website
PIRSA – 1800 253 787 – Website
VIC Business Victoria – 13 22 15 – Website
The Federal Government has announced a $130 billion JobKeeper payment to help keep Australians in jobs. If your business has been significantly impacted by the Coronavirus you will be able to access a wages subsidy to continue paying your employees. This assistance will help businesses to keep people in their jobs and re-start when the crisis is over. View the fact sheet here for eligibility and payment details, and view the website here.
- Eligible businesses will be able to claim a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee from 30 March 2020 until 27 September 2020.
- Self-employed or sole traders maybe eligible to receive JobKeeper Payment where they meet the relevant turnover test outlined in the fact sheet.
- JobKeeper registration for businesses can be accessed at the ATO here, until 31 May 2020.
As of 24 April 2020, changes are being made to the eligibility criteria for the JobKeeper payment to make it easier for farm businesses impacted by drought to claim the payment. For those coming out of drought, it can be difficult to meet the criteria of proving a 30% fall in turnover, in light of low turnover in previous drought years.
The Government is introducing a new ‘alternative test’ to measure turnover where the comparison period is considered unrepresentative of normal operating periods. Details of the new ‘alternative test’ can be found here.
The Government has also amended the ‘basic test’ to measure turnover to enable those farm businesses that export to international markets, and do not pay GST, to be eligible for the payment where they meet the other criteria. The calculation of turnover for those businesses that do not pay GST, will be as if they do pay GST.
The Fair Work Act has been amended to support the implementation and operation of the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme in Australian workplaces. These changes are temporary and will end on 28 September 2020. Learn more about the JobKeeper changes to the Fair Work Act here.
ATO updates on the JobKeeper scheme, including guides for small businesses and sole traders can be found here.
Supporting credit flow
The Government, the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) have taken coordinated action to ensure the flow of credit in the Australian economy. Timely access to credit is vital for businesses to manage the impacts of the Coronavirus, and you can more easily access finances here.
Supporting cash flow
The Australian Government is supporting Australian businesses to manage cash flow challenges and retain employees. Assistance includes cash flow support to businesses and temporary measures to provide relief for financially distressed businesses.
- Boosting Cash Flow for Employers – Up to $100,000 for small and medium sized businesses that employ people.
- Threshold increase – The Government is temporarily increasing the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company.
- Increase of instant asset write off – From $30K to $150K.
- Investment incentive – Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct 50% of the cost of an eligible asset on installation, with existing depreciation rules applying to the balance of the asset’s cost.
- Apprentices & Trainees – Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50% of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage until 30 September 2020.
Australian Tax Office (ATO)
Get all of your business tax questions answered here.
The ATO are running daily webinars to help small businesses navigate the recent COVID-19 grant and support initiatives. Their 60 minute webinars focus on tax support, cash flow coaching, and how businesses use their MyGovID. View their upcoming webinars here.
Coronavirus information and support for business
Backing business investment
There is now a time limited 15 month investment incentive to support business investment and economic growth over the short term, by accelerating depreciation deductions. Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct 50% of the cost of an eligible asset on installation, with existing depreciation rules applying to the balance of the asset cost. Read more here.
Department of Agriculture Water & Environment
Primary Industries Ministers’ meetings communique
View communique from Primary Industries Ministers’ meetings, which consist of Federal and State Agriculture Ministers meeting to discuss the impacts of COVID-19.
Ag is an ‘Essential Service’ to Australia
On 25 March 2020, Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud deemed agriculture in Australia an essential service and advised that Australia’s food production and supply chain will not be affected by coronavirus shutdowns. This means state-imposed border shutdowns will not affect agricultural supply chains, and that supplies, trucks and produce will still be able to move around the country.
Read the full announcement here.
Australian Signals Directorate
Malicious cyber activity
COVID-19 cyber security threats are increasing and Australians are urged to be careful when using online collaboration and video tools, installing software or providing their personal information and banking details over the internet.
Federal Court of Australia
Click here to view Directions notices for the Commonwealth and all States in regards to COVID-19.
State border closures
Currently, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia have border restrictions in place. Queensland and Western Australia have now implemented ‘hard’ border closures, meaning no one can enter the state unless they fit into an exemption category.
Primary production has been deemed an essential service in all states, and trucks carrying produce will be listed under the exemptions. Workers are not necessarily included so please check individual state requirements to confirm what is required for your workers.
Western Australia has also announced restricted movements between regions. The WA police have announced a hotline to call for clarification on regional travel restrictions exemptions -> 132 6843.
Continue to check this page for the most recent updates on all border restrictions.
In addition, as of 26 March 2020, restrictions have been put in place on people travelling to remote areas to protect our First Nations people due to their increased vulnerability to COVID-19. Further information can be seen online here, and FAQs can be downloaded here. You should visit State and Territory government pages for requirements to enter these remote areas, which you can do here.
GrantGuru has collected a list of all general grants available due to COVID-19. Click here to view the latest list.
Click here to read a summary of what Telstra is doing to support business customers and keep them connected during the pandemic.
During these unprecedented times Optus wants to reassure customers that they understand that uncertainty can make it hard for businesses to operate as usual. They are committed to helping businesses stay connected with practical tools and resources. View more details here.
NBN Co has extended an offer for internet providers to access up to an additional 40% capacity at no cost through June and July billing periods. They are also offering internet providers the chance to increase average download data limits for standard Sky Muster services for another two months. Details here.
Regional Express flights
Facebook – COVID-19 updates
‘Like’ the Coronavirus Information Centre on Facebook to see updates in your news feed from the Australian Government Department of Health, the World Health Organisation and UNICEF.
Free business webinars
The consumer market environment for horticulture growers during COVID-19 – What are the implications and opportunities of changing consumer behaviours and attitudes for Australian horticulture growers as we evolve through COVID-19?
Join Adam Briggs, Head of Data & Insights at Hort Innovation, and guest presenters Mel Norris, Associate Director at Fresh Analytics, and Cori Hodge, Director at Fiftyfive5. Together, they’ll help you make sense of the current consumer market environment for horticulture products using the latest behavioural and attitudinal data collected and funded by Hort Innovation.
May 28, @ 1PM AEST. Register here.
The Federal Department of Industry Science Energy and Resources (DISER)
Practical support for businesses from experienced advisers and facilitators drawn from industry, to ensure businesses get the advice and support they need to improve their competitiveness, productivity, and to maximize their growth potential.
Topics include: cashflow in a crisis, effective financial management, grants and government assistance, and regulations and obligations of employers. See all topics and dates here, and register online.
BDO Australia is hosting a series of webinar sessions to assist business owners in taking precautionary measures, and formulating action plans to mitigate risks around the impacts of COVID-19. Check out what’s coming up next here, or see the QDAF webinar series if you are in Queensland. You can also view past webinars.
ABA loan repayment deferral
The Australian Banking Association (ABA) says all small businesses hit by the coronavirus pandemic will be able to access a six-month deferral of loan repayments. See the details here.
NEW SOUTH WALES
NSW easing of restrictions
NSW Government have created a webpage titled ‘What you can and can’t do under the rules’.
From Monday 1 June 2020 certain restrictions have eased. Read these in detail to see how they affect you here.
Food safety audits
The NSW Government Food Authority advises that audits provided by Food Safety auditors will continue in a similar manner as currently conducted, with the following additions:
- Increased focus on maintaining personal hygiene (e.g. increased hand washing)
- Social distancing practices (1.5 metre separation between persons)
To minimise the risk of contamination to audit staff it may also be necessary to introduce alternate verification mechanisms, such as virtual auditing (video conferencing), desk audits or provision of electronic data on key food safety system performance measures as a means of demonstrating compliance with regulatory food safety obligations. For more information, see here.
NT Roadmap to Recovery
Stage 1 – 1 May 2020
Stage 2 – 15 May 2020
Stage 3 – 5 June 2020
Read what each stage entails here.
Premier of Queensland
QLD Roadmap to Recovery
Our strong health response to COVID-19 means we’re well positioned for recovery.
On Friday 8 May 2020 the Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk released Queensland’s Roadmap to Easing COVID-19 restrictions. The roadmap outlines a staged approach to giving Queenslanders more freedom to travel, participate in more activities and hold more gatherings.
Stage 1 – 15 May 2020
Stage 2 – 1 June 2020
Stage 3 – 10 July 2020
Click here to read what each stage entails.
Parliament of Queensland
The Appropriation (COVID-19) Bill 2020 was passed by Parliament on 22 April 2020, and provides appropriation for expenditure on COVID-19 related relief measures that have been announced including $2.5 billion for a series of measures such as payroll tax relief; a worker displacement program; electricity bill rebates for eligible small and medium sized businesses; and assistance to support large businesses scale up when economic activity improves. For business support, visit https://www.business.qld.gov.au/.
Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy
Natural Resources Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said the Palaszczuk Government would freeze irrigation prices for a year and absorb dam safety costs as part of ongoing measures to support Queensland business and industry through the COVID-19 crisis.
The Government will invest $14.7 million – about $2300 per farmer – in 2020-21 to keep prices low for irrigators. See the full announcement here.
The Queensland Government announced a $360 million assistance package through which businesses employing Queenslanders will be exempt from paying payroll tax on the Federal Government’s JobKeeper payments. See more here.
Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
Agriculture Coordination Officers
Newly appointed Agriculture Coordination Officers will support producers, the agriculture industry and local governments to manage COVID-19. Approximately 100 regional economic development, extension, research, and biosecurity staff are available to ensure rapid assistance across Queensland.
Support includes assisting producers and industry to access relevant information quickly without having to navigate a myriad of websites and in some cases with limited or no connectivity. Read more about the ACO’s responsibilities here, or watch a short clip from one of the ACOs below.
Phone: the Customer Service Centre on 13 25 23, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch with an officer.
Chief Health Officer public health directions
Click here to stay on top of the latest public health directions regarding coronavirus (COVID-19) from the Queensland Chief Health Officer (CHO), such as border crossings, quarantine and self-isolation requirements. You can also subscribe for updates.
Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority
COVID-19 Jobs Support Loans
Applications are now open for the Queensland Government’s $1 billion COVID-19 Jobs Support Loan scheme (this has been doubled from the original $500 million). This scheme is for Queensland businesses and non-profit organisations financially affected by COVID-19 to retain employees and maintain their operations. View loan guidelines here.
For more information phone free-call 1800 623 946, or email email@example.com
Department of Environment and Science
New cropping requirements and industrial standards postponed
The Queensland Government is deferring the commencement of the new cropping and horticulture activities requirement (known as ERA 13A) and the new sediment and nutrient emission standard for new point source activities under the Reef protection regulations until 1 June 2021.
The deferment is in direct response to COVID-19 and ensures the agricultural community and industry have a full opportunity to provide feedback and a suitable amount of time to prepare for the changes.
Public consultation on the draft standard conditions for new or expanded cropping and horticulture activities between five and 100 hectares has also been suspended and will recommence later in 2020. For more information visit www.qld.gov.au/ReefRegulations.
Virgin Australia flights
While Virgin Australia has announced voluntary administration, it continues to operate a reduced schedule across Queensland services. The Queensland Government has offered $200 million towards a national support package to help Virgin Airlines to continue as Australia’s second national carrier.
This support will only be provided if the support is also provided by the Federal Government, shareholders and bond holders, there is debt restructuring, the company’s headquarters remains in Brisbane, and there are ongoing regional flights.
Premier of SA
SA Roadmap to Recovery
The South Australian government has released its Roadmap for Easing COVID-19 Restrictions. While the Prime Minister and National Cabinet have released a national framework, state and territory governments must develop their own plans for moving towards a COVID safe society and economy. This roadmap is South Australia’s plan.
Recovery Step 1 – 11 May 2020
Recovery Step 2 – 1 June 2020
Click here to read what each step entails.
World-Class COVID-19 testing bolstered
South Australia’s COVID-19 testing regime is being bolstered with focused testing for specific cohorts of the population, as part of the South Australian Government’s plan to protect all South Australians from the spread of the virus. The testing cohorts identified in the Active Testing Surveillance Framework include transport workers and seasonal workers amongst others.
Work is underway to reach out to occupational groups to determine the best ways of implementation across the cohorts. The Premier’s media release can be found here.
Rent relief for businesses
The South Australian Government will provide full rent relief for business tenants of commercial, retail, industrial and other non-residential sites that have been forced to close or are significantly impacted as a result of COVID-19. The rent relief will provide relief to impacted tenants from the date they were forced to close their business or were significantly impacted to 30 June 2020. View the media release here
Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (PIRSA)
Small businesses to receive $10,000 payments
The SA Government has announced it will provide one-off, $10,000 emergency cash grants to small businesses across the state that have suffered a significant loss of income or been forced to close as a result of coronavirus-related restrictions.
For more information, conditions and to register your interest, visit Growing South Australia on the SA Treasury website. Applications for the grant will be available until 1 June 2020.
Business SA has partnered with the South Australian Small Business Commissioner to help SMEs navigate the current COVID-19 pandemic, take practical actions and build strategies to become more resilient against current and future threats to their businesses and marketplace. See the Business SA webinars and resources web page, available to support small businesses through the COVID-19 crisis.
2020 Food South Australia Summit – Fit for Future
The 2020 Food South Australia Summit – Fit for Future, will be held as a virtual event for the first time on Wednesday 17 June 2020. With everyone so strongly focused on COVID-19 response and recovery strategies right now, Food South Australia know the big questions for industry is around what the ‘new normal’ actually looks like and where the opportunities are for food and beverage businesses.
The aim of the 2020 Summit program is to help answer those questions. Summit speakers will provide updates on the latest trends and opportunities in global markets as Australia progresses through recovery from COVID-19, and to help food and beverage businesses develop strategies for this new trading environment. View the full program here. Registration is free of charge for all South Australian attendees and only $50 for all interstate and international attendees. Register here today.
Elders Presents Virtual Series
In response to many industry events being cancelled due to COVID-19 across the country, Elders is introducing Elders Presents, a series of virtual events tackling issues and new information affecting the agriculture industry. Their first virtual event to be held on Thursday 21 May 2020 from 7.30pm to 9.10pm will feature experts in Agtech and Livestock, including Farmbot, PIRSA, Thomas Elder Consulting (TEC) and more. View more information and register here.
Food SA Online Market
Food SA has launched an Online Marketplace to help consumers find local food and beverage supplies online. Live from today, the portal is available both through the Food SA and Eat Local SA websites, connecting South Australians to a range of products available for delivery. See Food SA’s media release here.
Legal assistance for South Australians
Legal aid is boosting its free assistance for South Australians hit hard by COVID-19, and is prioritising matters regarding employment laws, mortgage stress, credit and debt problems, and immigration visas amongst others.
For free legal advice, call the Commission’s Help Line on 1300 366 424, or to chat online with legal aid lawyers, visit lsc.sa.gov.au and click the Legal Chat icon.
Department of Health and Human Services
Victoria’s restriction levels
The Victorian Government has extended the current Declaration of State of Emergency through to 11.59pm 21 June 2020, however they have announced the gradual easing of restrictions throughout the state from 11:59pm Sunday 31 May 2020.
Department of Agriculture and Regional Development
Risk management for your farm business webinar
Agriculture Victoria and the Young Farmer Business Network are now offering a free webinar on managing farm business risks. The one hour webinar will be facilitated by Gavin Beever of Cumbre Consultants and will include a presentation by Brian Wibberley on developing strategies to manage risk including farm management deposits. The webinar will focus on upskilling young growers and those new to managing farming businesses in the Mallee’s Sunraysia region. Register here.
Date: Tuesday 9 June 12.30 – 1.30pm AEST
More info: Sarah Wallis, Young Farmer Project Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
New grants keeping critical food supply businesses going
On May 28, Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes launched the Business Adaptation grants program – part of the Working for Victoria Agriculture Workforce Plan – to support food supply chain businesses in rural, regional and outer metropolitan areas.
Under the program, individual grants of between $10,000 and $300,000 will support eligible businesses to meet the costs of adapting their workplaces to meet health, safety and social distancing requirements or adapt to business changes imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Adaptations may include changes to transport used to take employees to and from work to ensure physical distancing, changes to employer-supplied accommodation, or the creation of extra washrooms and other facilities.
Grants can also be used to buy machinery or appliances needed by businesses to adapt to maintaining operations during the pandemic.
Each grant will cover up to 50 per cent of the costs of individual adaptation projects, with the remainder to be covered by the business.
For more details or to make an application, visit agriculture.vic.gov.au
Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions
Victorian Government assistance for businesses
In response to COVID-19, the Global Victoria has put together a fact sheet detailing the $1.7 billion economic survival and jobs package. See what it includes here, and call the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15 if you have questions, or visit the website for more information.
Victorian Chamber of Commerce
Department of Premier and Cabinet
WA Roadmap to Recovery
The WA Government has created a four-phase roadmap and lifting or restrictions that will help get Western Australians back to work safely and begin the process of restarting the State’s economy. It has been developed in conjunction with the National Cabinet principles and is based on the best health advice for WA.
Phase 1 – 27 April 2020
Phase 2 – 18 May 2020
Phase 3 – 6 June 2020
Phase 4 – TBC (as at 1 June 2020)
See the full details here.
Department of Finance
The WA Government has introduced additional payroll tax measures to support small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19.
- The threshold will be increased to $1 million on 1 July 2020.
- Small and medium businesses can apply to extend the time to pay their 2019-20 payroll tax until 21 July 2020.
- A one-off grant of $17,500 will be available for employers whose annual Australian taxable wages are more than $1 million and up to $4 million.
Read the fine print here.
Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety
Advice for sole traders
This information is relevant to employers and employees in the WA state industrial relations system – sole traders, unincorporated partnerships, unincorporated trusts and some incorporated or not for profit organisations.
Call: 13 31 40, or visit the web page here: Employment impacted by the COVID-19 coronavirus
Business health check
VegetablesWA CEO John Shannon and Rural West small business and rural financial counsellor, Chris Puckridge, have filmed a 20 minute video to provide free support to WA growers to understand their farm’s position. Subjects include:
- A Business Health Check
- Whether you have a Business Plan
- Your Financial Structure. Does it suit your business?
- Your relationship with your bank. Who is on your side?
- Risk Management. Are you prepared for the future?
- Moving beyond Covid 19 and 2020
Watch the webinar here