The Nationals leader and Member for Murray Plains, Peter Walsh, said more financial support was urgently needed to ensure regional small businesses and the jobs they provide can continue to recover and rebuild.
Mr Walsh said despite the recent impacts of the shadow lockdown; which has seen significant drops in foot traffic, patronage and caused staff shortages across the state, Victorian small businesses have been fending for themselves since October last year.
He said as a direct result retail strips in regional towns – big and small – remain covered in ‘for lease’ signs; and many more have indicated they will be struggling to stay open for more than three months.
“Once again NSW has showed the way to keep things going – the government there has announced a support package of more than $1 billion for businesses and staff impacted by the recent Omicron outbreak,” Mr Walsh said.
“This proactive package included payments of up to $5000 per week, $3000 rebates for rapid antigen test purchases, further support for commercial landlords experiencing hardship and new measures to support the performing arts sector,” he said.
“So what do you get if you are a small regional Victorian business that has been belted by suffering more lockdowns and restrictions than anywhere else – nothing.
“The Victorian State Government must now match this support package so Victorian small businesses do not fall even further behind.”
Mr Walsh said the State Government must also immediately adopt the Liberal Nationals’ plan to get business back on track by suspending QR code check-ins, lifting the work-from-home directive and removing density limits for hospitality and entertainment venues.
He said small business and local jobs cannot be left to fall at the final hurdle and need support now.
“For weeks the State Government has ignored our calls to help struggling small businesses and workers through this incredibly difficult period,” Mr Walsh added.
“New South Wales has delivered a common-sense package that must be now matched by the Victorian State Government. We cannot afford to wait while our government procrastinates and then, finally, realises it is wrong again; and lines up with NSW, as it has been doing all the way through
“A Matthew Guy Liberal Nationals Government will back small businesses to recover, rebuild and grow for the future.”