Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for South Australia
Date: Tuesday, 14 September 2021
Jordan Curtis: It's breakfast with Jordan Curtis, and for businesses doing it tough thanks to COVID 19 Of course, we've had eight months of this now and the financial impacts are still being felt, especially in hospitality and tourism. There is a bit of a rescue package from the federal government and state government, a bit of a joint initiative. I'm joined by Minister for Finance Senator Simon Birmingham. Thank you for joining me today.
Simon Birmingham: Hello, Jordan. It's great to be with you. Thanks for the opportunity.
Jordan Curtis: So can you explain this package for me?
Simon Birmingham: Sure. So I mean, throughout the course of COVID 19, many businesses have done it tough through various lockdowns, border restrictions and other measures, and indeed many households have too. And it's why we've provided as a federal government around $9.5 billion of economic support into South Australia alone during the pandemic. That's been in programmes like JobKeeper, various support measures for business, disaster assistance - payments for individuals losing income and hours of work during the course of lockdowns or the like. But we know that even though things are going pretty well in SA at present with the COVID free status, touch wood for now, those tourism businesses in particular continue to do it tough in some sectors. So we're making sure we provide with the South Australian government another round of assistance of grants to tourism businesses scale depending on the size of those businesses to help keep them afloat. Knowing that with vaccine numbers growing day by day, that the opportunity for them to get back to business more is normal, hopefully isn't too far away, but we've got to keep them there just these next couple of months.
Jordan Curtis: Like you said, it is scaled depending on the on the business, what kind of packages are available.
Simon Birmingham: So for the tourism businesses, we're looking at support ranging between $1,000, essentially for sole traders growing up to a grant of $20,000 for businesses with a turnover that's usually greater than $5 million, which would mean they'd be employing a good number of people. And so it really will support those tourism hospitality businesses, including everybody from performing artists through to taxis and car rental businesses, of course, the types of things people think about of accommodation providers and the like. Now some are doing very, very well with South Australians travelling around the state. And so if they haven't faced a downturn in their business, then they're not going to be eligible. But of course, many who rely more on interstate or overseas visitation are still doing it tough and this support is there for them.
Jordan Curtis: And of course, an industry that has been hit hard throughout this whole pandemic has been the arts industry and of course, performing arts. They do pay great costs when it comes to festivals or just big events being cancelled thanks to COVID restrictions. Does this accommodate them?
Simon Birmingham: So they're eligible for this sort of support, There's also some South Australian government support for its Major Events Fund. We're providing grants of up to $100,000 to large, cancelled or postponed events that would have had more than 10,000 people, and that's really about enabling them to be able to be rescheduled to support them to still happen and to make sure that those organisations sometimes quite local, not for profit or the like organisations don't fall over due to the cost of loss or cancellation, but actually have the support to be able to continue and if not rescheduled, then at least successfully conducted their events next year when we hope things are more back to normal.
Jordan Curtis: And of course, well, yes, once we do hit those vaccine thresholds we've heard about. So hopefully things will get back to some semblance of normal. But for now, with COVID 19 still hanging over everyone's head with financial assistance like this, will it remain once we've hit those 80 per cent targets for vaccines? Or is it just for the short period before we hit that threshold?
Simon Birmingham: These latest grants are really about trying to get businesses through the next couple of months knowing that that we do hope in reaching and ideally exceeding those 80 per cent vaccination targets, which are really going strongly. If you look at the over 70s age group, those who have been eligible the longest to get the vaccines, more than 90 per cent of over 70s have had a first dose of vaccine now, and more than 70 per cent have had their second dose. And across the whole population, we're seeing the numbers vaccinated grow really strongly day by day rates faster than what most of the rest of the world have achieved, so we should have confidence that we can get back to a greater degree of normality. Obviously, this sort of government assistance can't go on forever, and it's here for the exceptional emergency circumstances that we face. And what we hope is that through vaccination and appropriate safety measures being taken on top of that, that we can transition back to something more resembling than normal and that these tourism businesses, hospitality businesses, arts events, community events and the like can all get back in 2022 to be on their feet standing by themselves as they historically have done so successfully.
Jordan Curtis: And if a tourism operator or a hospitality venue in the regions is listening to this and keen to make an application for some of this grant money, how do they go about that?
Simon Birmingham: So the best way to do so is to is to visit the South Australian Treasury website, which is Treasury.sa.gov.au, and they can get more information, follow the links and make applications from there. And of course, this support is on top of that are a whole lot of other assistance, not all of which has come to an end. There are things like tax measures enabling businesses to carry back losses against previous years, profits to help them and give assistance through the tax system and so on as well. So businesses doing it tough should know that and this is one extra bit of support and should make sure that to keep themselves on their own two feet, they access all of those bits of assistance available
Jordan Curtis: No worries well. Senator, thank you so much for joining me today.
Simon Birmingham: Thanks, Jordan. My pleasure.