The Business Council of Australia and “Big Four” bank Westpac has welcomed the Australian federal government’s expanded financial support package for workers and businesses during prolonged lockdowns in New South Wales (NSW).
Over 400,000 businesses are said to potentially benefit after the government lifted the eligibility threshold for support payments for businesses with $50 million revenue to $250 million.
Payments range from $1,500 to $100,000 per week based on the company’s turnover and whether there has been a 30 percent decline during the lockdown period.
The federal government will fund three-quarters of the package, with the NSW government funding the rest.
“Today’s financial package for the nation’s biggest state economy in NSW picks up the principles we have been arguing for—that financial assistance is targeted, adequate, expanded and timely for both individuals and businesses,” Business Council of Australia CEO Jennifer Westacott said.
“Lifting the business turnover threshold to $250 million with maximum payments of $100,000 will help protect jobs and help businesses bounce back,” she said in a statement. “We thank the Berejiklian and Morrison governments for their continued willingness to adapt to changing circumstances throughout the pandemic.”
“The Delta strain is a gamechanger, and it is more important than ever that we have a pragmatic and smarter approach to managing the virus and restrictions, higher vaccination take-up rates and an exit plan.”
Greater Sydney has been undergoing a five-week lockdown due to an outbreak of the Delta variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus. But on July 28, Sydneysiders were told this lockdown would be extended by another four weeks, with the government citing low vaccination rates and continuing infections.
Five million residents are affected and cannot leave their homes except for four reasons.
Peter King, CEO of Westpac, one of Australia’s largest banks, said: “We have seen an increase in the number of businesses seeking additional support, roughly double what we did pre-lockdown. We’re also receiving a lot of calls from those looking to understand their options and plan ahead.”
“It is clear that the majority of Australians need to get vaccinated for us to return to a more normal way of life,” he added.
We have already seen more than 2,500 employees utilise our paid special leave to get their vaccination, and we expect this to increase as vaccination supplies increase across the country.”
Robert Carling, economist at the Centre for Independent Studies said if the government was going to implement “extreme action” and lockdown businesses, it had an obligation to provide financial support.
“One can argue about how much, and in what form, but we now have the fourth version of the support scheme and I hope this is the final version,” he told The Epoch Times.
“The cost to federal and state budgets will be high and means more borrowing by those governments. That is how it will be paid for—more debt on top of the huge increase in debt that has already happened and was in train,” he added.
In the federal government’s case, the cost might be offset by some improvements elsewhere in the budget—such as from high iron ore prices—but this is not likely to be the case for the NSW budget, which will experience a large increase in its deficit and borrowing requirement.”