The Nationals leader and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, said support packages without restrictive criteria that excludes any level of business must go hand in hand with any COVID-19 lockdowns.
Mr Walsh said “the goodwill has gone; the reserves have dried up and for some there is no tomorrow without full compensation for losses”.
“The time has come for the Premier to stop the platitudes he reserves for his daily dog and pony show on television; time to stop thanking businesses ‘for their sacrifice’ and give them the support they need as he is the one sacrificing them in regional Victoria. Our businesses have been locked down for just on seven months in the past two years,” he said.
On top of removing the deliberately restrictive criteria, Mr Walsh said supports must better match losses.
“You cannot have a business that regularly brings in $15,000 plus per week being offered $3500 in compensation. That won’t pay the bills and keep the doors open,” he added.
“My office is hearing from many that do not qualify for support, or if they are lucky enough to meet the restrictive criteria, it goes nowhere near covering costs.
“The Minister has said before; the packages are not to compensate for full loss, rather assistance – well a lot have no more nest eggs to call on. It’s crunch time.
“Since this lockdown was announced yesterday, I have already heard from business owners who say they can’t go on. If this Government is going to lock up regions 350km from the nearest case or exposure site, it has to pay.
“The government’s own data tells us the packages reach about one in five businesses in the state, but there are far more than one in five struggling, with many already closed.
“We were given hope when in the last lockdown the Minister said he would set up a concierge service for those commercial enterprises that fall through the cracks, but those needing help called to be told again they don’t qualify – words not backed up by actions.”
Mr Walsh also called on those who support state-wide lockdowns to be as equally vocal on the supports needed by the business sector when it happens.
“Too many conveniently forget the latter. They need to go hand in hand.”