Many regional Victorian businesses still haven’t received desperately-needed grants funding more than six months since Andrews Government-imposed shutdowns forced regional economies to their knees, The Nationals leader and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, said.
Mr Walsh said analysis of the grants revealed a total lack of accountability or transparency on 14 of the 20 business support programs put up by the Andrews Labor Government to assist with COVID recovery.
“Half of the six packages reported on by the Government had distributed 12 per cent or less of the total funds at December 4 last year,” he said.
“In Parliament in October The Nationals asked the Victorian Labor Government to explain to local businesses why their coronavirus economic support grant applications had been denied, despite meeting the criteria.
“The Minister for Jobs, Precincts and Regions was asked to respond to the many local applicants who were denied business support grants and were awaiting an explanation.
“Many, many small businesses, not just in my seat of Murray Plains but right across regional Victoria, have contacted our offices with the same question: ‘Are these business support grants a con? They don’t seem to be real’.”
Mr Walsh said the grants were an urgently needed lifeline for struggling small businesses, but Daniel Andrews was sitting on this money.
“Daniel Andrews has dismally let down mum and dad businesses, failing to support them in a timely and fair way,” he said.
“During Victoria’s harsh second wave lockdown we were inundated with complaints from business owners unable to access support.
“Critical financial support was too little, too late, for tens of thousands of family business and sole traders, many who were destroyed by Daniel Andrews and his inaction.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our country communities; but Andrews’ focus remains on the protecting the unions – his major political donors.”
Of the more than 600,000 small businesses in Victoria, the Andrews Labor Government claims to have supported around 129,000 businesses of all sizes in Victoria – less than 22 per cent.
The analysis to Victoria’s Parliamentary Accounts and Estimates Committee shows:
- Of the 20 business support programs presented by the Government, 14 (70 per cent) of them were unable to provide any details of their efficacy or how much money was actually given out to support businesses.
- Of the six packages reported on by the government, less than half the promoted value of the package was actually distributed by 4 December 2020. That’s over six months past the introduction of restrictions and forced business closure. Half of the six packages had distributed 12 per cent or less of the value of the packages.
- Only 4000 of the approximately 400,000 Victorian sole traders were eligible for support, and only $12 million of the Government’s $100 million allocated to sole traders was allocated by 4 December 2020.
- The hospitality industry suffered the longest and most severe lockdown restrictions imposed by the Andrews Labor Government. Less than 50 per cent of the specialised support available was distributed by 4 December 2020.