State Treasurer asked to expand business support eligibility

Thursday March 10, 2022

Media Release published by The Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell

“Small print” has excluded a number of new businesses in the regions from accessing much-needed State Government support, says Mount Gambier MP Troy Bell.

The Independent MP has joined forces with Mount Gambier accountant Josh Lewis in appealing to the State’s Treasurer to expand eligibility criteria for the State Government’s latest round of business grants.

The support package was announced in late December, following new density restrictions enforced upon hospitality, tourism and fitness businesses, however Mr Lewis said he was concerned about a significant “oversight” in the eligibility criteria.

“In order for businesses to qualify for payments, they must show a decline in turnover of at least 30% or 50% for 27/12/21 to 09/01/22 compared to the same period in 2019/20 or 2020/21,” he said.

“I represent a number of small businesses that have commenced during the last twelve months that don’t yet have that comparison period.

“A majority of these businesses will feel the financial pinch just as much as those that have been established for at least 12-24 months and they should be treated fairly in this application process.

“They have rent commitments, utility bills, outgoings and staffing issues to attend to as well. The survival of each and every local business is vital to the region’s economic recovery.”

Mr Bell said the accountant had highlighted a significant point and he had written to the Treasurer to draw his attention to the issue.

“New businesses and start-ups deserve just as much support as established ones and unfortunately, they’ve been excluded from this latest round of funding, simply due to small print,” he said.

“Hospitality and tourism businesses and gyms have been some of the hardest hit sectors during the pandemic, however we’ve also seen quite a number of these new businesses pop up around Mount Gambier and the Limestone Coast in the last year as well.

“I’m always impressed by how people find a way to adapt and thrive through difficult circumstances, but these fledgling businesses need assistance and support to survive the current landscape.

“A little confidence and support in the early stages is vital for these businesses to become permanent and be able to employ local staff and contribute to our local economy.

In his letter to Treasurer Rob Lucas, the Independent MP wrote that including such businesses was a simple fix.

“For businesses in this situation, Mr Lewis has suggested expanding the criteria to include comparison data for the two weeks prior to the restrictions starting, which is a comparable trading period,” he wrote.

“As our state Treasurer, I ask that these considerations are taken into account and the eligibility criteria are expanded to be fair to those who have started up a business in our state during the last twelve months.”

Mr Bell praised Mr Lewis for taking the time to highlight the issue, which could have repercussions for multiple businesses across South Australia.

“Big things happen when people work together for the good of our community,” he said.

“If you see something happening that you believe isn’t right and have an idea on how to fix it, I welcome anyone to contact me to work together on finding a solution.”