A CANBERRA Liberals MLA will move a motion in the ACT Legislative Assembly today (August 4) calling on the Labor-Greens government to provide financial support to Canberra’s struggling hospitality businesses hit hard by lockdowns.
Canberra now has the weakest job market in the nation after its unemployment rate soared from 3.6 per cent to almost 5 per cent last month, according to shadow minister for business Leanne Castley.
In a response to this, she says the ACT government must provide a support package that includes emergency cash grants for struggling businesses in the hospitality sector.
“I have spoken to many restaurants, bars and cafes in Canberra, and they are crying out for help,” she says.
“Businesses need assistance with operating costs such as power bills, rent and rates immediately but so far this Labor-Greens government has given little support.”
The motion also calls for the Hospitality Support Package to include other measures such as extending waivers for food registration and outdoor dining fees and extending the scheme for pubs, bars and restaurants to sell takeaway alcohol.
“The Labor-Greens government must urgently throw a lifeline to Canberra’s hospitality businesses, or risk losing the vibrancy of our night-time economy,” she says.
However, the ACT Government, which says it’s aware that a small number of tourism-related industry sectors are experiencing a significant lack of demand due to the interstate lockdowns, says the interstate lockdowns are beyond their control.
Instead, a spokeswoman to the Treasurer and ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr says the most important thing the ACT government can do for Canberra businesses is to reduce the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in the territory.
“We are doing this by driving a strong mass vaccination program,” she says.
The Chief Minister has also written to Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Federal Tourism Minister Dan Tehan requesting a nationally consistent approach to support the tourism and hospitality sectors.
“The Commonwealth needs to acknowledge the cumulative impacts that extended lockdowns have not just on economies in lockdown, but also tourism impacted businesses outside lockdown areas,” the spokeswoman says.
“The ACT has indicated that we are willing to contribute to jointly funded programs with the Commonwealth to further support local tourism related businesses if the interstate lockdowns are prolonged.”
Apart from calling for federal government support, she says the ACT government has already announced support for accommodation providers and small tourism operators as a result of the greater Sydney, Victorian and Queensland lockdowns, with support of up to $75,000 available to assist.
“Eligibility requires evidence of a 30 per cent loss of revenue in July 2021 compared to April 2021 and evidence of expenses incurred. Guidelines for the $15,000 Small Tourism Operator COVID Recovery Payment are available on the Business Hub website where businesses are be able to register their interest,” she says.
- More to come.
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