Items filtered by date: April 2020
Thursday, 09 April 2020 17:40

Bushfire clean up needs firing up

Three and a half months after the State Government appointed Grocon so bushfire clean-up work “can begin immediately”, little has been done.

Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, said that when the Minister made this comment on January 18, it led to expectations the clean-up would be underway in a few weeks.

As of April 1, 620 registrations had been received in East Gippsland, with almost all requiring clean up works - but just 10 sites had been completed.

“Just on a month ago in Parliament I asked for a timeframe from the State Government, due to contact from a number of extremely frustrated property owners.

“What those impacted want is the detail of when they can expect some action, but it isn’t forthcoming and adds to stress levels. At this rate some families will be waiting several more months.

“Some families who lost their homes have been given six months accommodation through their insurance companies and the clock is ticking. Others have been told that if their rebuild is not commenced within 12 months, the policy will be voided.

“My office was also told we would have 21-22 crews working in East Gippsland by the end of March, but it never happened. What I am seeking is some accurate timeframes and information to be able to provide to those families who have lost everything and are in limbo.

“Families can’t look at rebuilding until the sites are cleared, that is the first stage and several hundred are still waiting to be told when they can expect a crew.”

Mr Bull said he had also fielded a number of complaints on non-local contractors being used and this was an issue he had raised with Grocon and Bushfire Recovery Victoria directly.

“For example, I have local contractors who have registered asking me why they are seeing trucks from places like Shepparton and Wangaratta doing jobs they could do.

“The advice I have received is that equipment has to be certified to work at an asbestos removal site and there are many cases where vehicles and equipment from out of town is being operated by locals.”

Mr Bull said that is something he would seek to clarify with Grocon.

Caption: Tim Bull in front of the remains of what was John Kinniburgh’s Sarsfield home.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Published in Media
Monday, 06 April 2020 15:29

Keeping tourists out in our own hands

Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull, has called on all accommodation house operators to “do the right thing” and cancel tourist bookings for the upcoming Easter holiday period.

“It is hard to say this, because we have been pleading for people to come and visit us after the fires and I’ve been at the forefront of that message, but with the Coronavirus threat, it has all changed and we simply don’t want metropolitan tourists this Easter.

“I know businesses are hurting and we generally rely on tourism season to keep our economy ticking over, but the threat is too great,” he said.

Mr Bull said he believed closing roads into the area was not required as this was a matter that could “be handled at this end”.

“If no accommodation house accepts tourist bookings and cancels the ones they have - and camping and caravan parks are closed - there will simply be nowhere for tourists to stay. It’s as simple as that.

“The only people who should be in our accommodation houses are essential services workers, or those in exceptional circumstances (eg bushfire victims or those escaping domestic violence).

“Closing access to East Gippsland via road blocks is problematic for several reasons. There are over a dozen access routes to be monitored and it will tie up critical police resources in what is a busy period for them, enforcing the various regulations that have come into place.

“It would also mean every driver of every vehicle would have to be stopped and interrogated and this would cause massive delays for critical freight deliveries, essential services deliveries and essential services workers, etc. No rural region of Australia has been cut off as yet for the abovementioned reasons.

“In Victoria alone there are many rural areas (about 33) that have had either zero or one case only. What we need to do as a society is to continue to do what we have been doing and band together and do the right thing. If we do the hard yards now, we will be better off in the long run.”

Mr Bull sent an email to all business and tourism associations and chambers of commerce in East Gippsland on Friday following the Prime Minister and Premier’s advice to not holiday this Easter.

“Destination Gippsland pleasingly put out a similar message and I would hope all accommodation houses accept this. It’s a tough call from an economic perspective, but it is the right one.

“People should also bear in mind that for those who undertake non-essential outings there are significant fines for both individuals and businesses.”

Caption: Local MP, Tim Bull, says tourists should not be visiting this Easter and as tough as it is, tourism bookings should be refused by local accommodation houses.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Published in Media
Monday, 06 April 2020 15:16

Community needs more detailed information

Considerable confusion around the new Coronavirus ‘stay at home’ laws requires a number of grey areas to be clarified, according to Gippsland East Nationals MP, Tim Bull.

“Most people just want to do the right thing, but don’t want to risk a fine for undertaking an activity that is illegal and they need more direction than what is being provided,” he said.

“My office has fielded several hundred enquiries from people who want more direction. There remains considerable confusion around certain things only being allowed for ‘exercise’, but then other activities are allowed under ‘recreation’.

“Although we are doing our best, it is very hard to give the public accurate information and justify some other activities over another.

“Last week everyone was told no fishing, hunting or golf as they were non-essential, but then advised swimming and surfing were allowed.

“How is it that you can’t stand on a surf beach with a fishing rod, but you can go for a swim or surf.

“Similarly, you can play a game of tennis or throw basketball hoops, but you can’t play a round of golf by yourself.

“I know these are tough times for government and there are no doubts precautions need to be taken and restrictions put in place, but we need some consistency applied and basic reasoning provided. There is a mental health consideration in all of this,” said Mr Bull.

“It is not helpful when the Premier and Police Minister both insisted couples living apart could not see each other under any circumstances, so you put that out to the community loud and clear – and then the chief health officer says that was wrong, they can see each other.

“This sort of thing is causing a lot of angst in the community.

“The legal directions signed by the government don’t give answers on many of the issues people want detail on and in some cases, are contradicted by the government’s own advice on department websites.

“While the Minister was saying no fishing, the Departmental website was saying it was OK as long as the social distancing rules were applied.

“The Premier has told people to ‘stop looking for loopholes’, but most are not looking for loopholes, they want to know where they stand and what they can and can’t do.”

Mr Bull reinforced that to be on the safe side, if you are unsure, don’t do it.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Published in Media
Friday, 03 April 2020 17:45

Local options needed for emergency care packages

Emergency care packages are being provided to people in mandatory isolation to support our elderly, disabled and those with a compromised immune system, but other vulnerable folk are missing out according to Gippsland East Nationals MP Tim Bull.
Mr Bull said he has received reports that many vulnerable elderly people observing the stay at home directive are not eligible to receive a care package.
“I am concerned that now the government is instructing people over the age of 70 to stay at home too, there are people across our community who will need a greater level of assistance. 
“There are many people who require support who are not registered to receive home and community care services. 
“This is an opportunity for the state government to contract local restaurants and cafes which have been forced to close to make meals for people.
“If this work could be done locally, more pubs, restaurants and cafes would be able to keep staff employed through this very difficult time.
“I am pleased that our local community and business sector has demonstrated its agility in responding to this need, such as:
• The Rivieria Christian Centre (0459 794 721) is delivering essential supplies.
• The Bairnsdale Neighbourhood House (5152 5777) has takeaway meals available at a modest cost on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday nights, accessed by attending the house, and
• The Supporting East Gippsland Businesses 2020 Facebook page lists a wide range of take away and home delivery options that can be viewed on line.
“There obviously needs to be oversight and coordination but our own community networks tend to work far better than centralised government control from an office in Melbourne,” said Mr Bull.
Image of food prepared for distribution provided by Bairnsdale Neighbourhood House
Published in Media
Friday, 03 April 2020 10:26

Individual support during COVID-19

This fact sheet provides information regarding the support available to individuals in response
to the disruption caused by COVID-19. It is organised into the following sections:
Section 1. Income supplements 
Section 2. Job opportunities
Section 3. Your rights as a worker
Section 4. Further assistance
Section 5. Changes to tenancy arrangements
Section 1. Income supplements
For those self-Isolating and unable to work. If you already receive an income support
payment – one of the three working-age payments below or another payment – and you are
in severe financial hardship, you may be eligible to receive the Crisis Payment. Having to
self-isolate as a result of coronavirus may be considered a ‘crisis’ for the purposes of this
payment. 
For those affected by workplace closures and unemployment. If you are:
• a permanent employee who has been stood down or lost your job;
• a sole trader, self-employed, a casual or contract worker whose income has reduced; or
• caring for someone who’s affected by coronavirus
due to coronavirus (COVID-19) you may be able to claim one of these payments, subject to meeting income tests. The assets test and the ordinary three-month waiting period has been waived. 
Youth Allowance - for job seekers Financial help if you’re between the ages of 16 & 21
JobSeeker Payment - Financial help if you’re between 22 and Age Pension age 
Parenting Payment - The main income support payment while you’re a young child’s main carer. 
Each of these payments has a standard fortnightly rate and receiving them may also trigger eligibility for other standard payments from the government.
• Rent assistance – for those renting in the private market
• Family Tax Benefit parts A and B – for parents only
• Energy Supplement – to assist with the costs of energy
• Health Care card – to assist with the cost of health services and medicines
This list is not exhaustive. You can use the Payment and Service finder to estimate what you may be eligible for. You may not claim these sorts of payments if you are also claiming paid leave benefits from your job or receiving payment from income protection insurance.
Under the current circumstances additional supplements are also available if you are eligible for other payments.
• A temporary fortnightly $550 Coronavirus Supplement after 27 April 2020
• A $750 Economic Support Payment from 31 March 2020 if you’re getting a core payment on any day from 12 March to 13 April 2020
• A second $750 Economic Support Payment from 13 July 2020 if you’re getting a core payment on 10 July 2020
Example 
Craig lost his job. He has no other work so made his intent to claim via MyGov. He's not eligible for other welfare. 
The Government processed his claim on April 13. His first three payments are (figures are approximate): 
April 13: $1,610 made up of: 
• Jobseeker Payment and Energy Supplement (covering 21 days backdated to March 23) — $860 
• Stimulus payment — $750 
April 27: $575 made up of: 
• Jobseeker Payment and Energy Supplement — $575 
May 11, then every two weeks: $1,125 made up of: 
• Jobseeker Payment and Energy Supplement — $575 
• Coronavirus Supplement — $550 
Source: Jack Snape, “The coronavirus supplement isn't due for a month. Here's why, plus all the dates your budget needs”, ABC News, 26/03/2020 
For those who have not claimed Centrelink benefits before, these instructions will help.
JobKeeper Payment
The JobKeeper payment will ensure eligible employers and employees stay connected while some businesses move into hibernation.
Who
Businesses and non-profits who have:
• A turnover up to $1 billion and can declare a loss in turnover of at least 30%, or
• A turnover above $1 billion and can declare a loss in turnover of at least 50%
If you were on the payroll as of 1 March for an entity that meets one of the above criteria, your employer – whether you were stood down or retrenched – is able to register the business for the Job Keeper assistance package via the ATO.
Businesses are able to claim the Job Keeper assistance package on behalf of:
• Full and part time workers
• Sole traders
• Casuals who’ve been with their employer for over 12 months
What
This $1,500 a fortnight payment is a flat rate paid to the employer to pay the employee through the business’s regular payroll system. It applies for workers who have not been stood down, as well as to those who have been stood down or retrenched. Payments from your employer will be backdated to 30th March.
If you ordinarily receive less than $1,500 in income per fortnight before tax, your employer must pay you, at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight, before tax.
How
This payment is made to you through your employer, and your employer must register their interest with the ATO. Your employer must also inform you if they intend to claim the payment on your behalf.
In the majority of cases, you cannot get both JobSeeker and JobKeeper. If you have applied to the JobSeeker program, you should get in touch with your employer to find out whether they are registering for JobKeeper assistance.
Section 2. Job opportunities
Working for Victoria Fund
The Victorian Government is establishing a Working for Victoria Fund in consultation with the Victorian Council of Social Services and Victorian Trades Hall Council.
The fund is to help workers who have lost their jobs to find new opportunities, including work cleaning public infrastructure or delivering food – providing vital contributions to our state’s response to the pandemic and affording those Victorians security when it’s needed most.
Individuals can register interest in the applying for work under the Working for Victoria Fund at: https://www.vic.gov.au/workingforvictoria
Job matching services
The Victorian Government has indicated that it will facilitate job matching to help Victorians find short-term or casual roles. More information on this service should be forthcoming.
Transition support network
A transition support network made up of representatives from the Department of Education, Skills and Employment's national, state and territory offices and Employment Facilitators, is available to assist retrenched workers to find a new job as soon as possible.
Retrenched workers or employers who would like information about the support available can call the Employment Services Information Line on 1800 805 260.
Jobactive Jobactive is a network of providers across Australia helping jobseekers find and keep a job, and employers find staff. Employment opportunities available through Jobactive can be accessed online at https://jobsearch.gov.au/
Jobs Victoria
The Victorian government also offers some services to jobseekers, including Skills and Job Centres located at every TAFE institute in Victoria. Jobs Victoria also has a page dedicated to helping jobseekers find work.
Section 3. Your rights as a worker
General
The FairWork Ombudsman has information available related to your rights as a worker during the outbreak of coronavirus. There are specific circumstances relating to coronavirus business impacts that must be met for an employer to have the option to stand down employees. Employers should exercise this option cautiously. Your employer must be able to demonstrate that:
• there is a stoppage of work
• the employees to be stood down cannot be usefully employed (which is not limited to the work an employee usually performs)
• the cause of the stoppage must also be one that the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible for.
• Your employer cannot generally stand down employees simply because of a deterioration of business conditions or because an employee has coronavirus.
• Some examples of when your employer may be able to stand down employees include:
• if there was an enforceable government direction requiring the business to close (which means there is no work at all for the employees to do, even from another location)
• if a large proportion of the workforce was required to self-quarantine with the result that the remaining employees/workforce cannot usefully be employed
• if there was a stoppage of work due to lack of supply for which the employer could not be held responsible.
This is not an exhaustive list.
Enterprise agreements and employment contracts can have different or extra rules about when an employer can stand down an employee without pay, for example, a requirement to notify or consult. Employers should consider whether their obligations are impacted by any applicable enterprise agreement, award, employees’ employment contracts or workplace policies.
For more information, see the FairWork Ombudsman’s coronavirus advice.
Industry-specific
The hospitality award has been altered to meet employer needs for flexibility in current circumstances and market conditions. There are two main areas where your role as a worker in the hospitality industry may change: number of hours and type of work. For permanent full-time staff, hours can be reduced to between 22.8 and 38 ordinary hours each week. For permanent part-time staff, guaranteed hours can be reduced by between 60% and 100% per week or over the roster cycle. Your employer must discuss these changes with you and provide as much notice as possible.
Your employer can also direct you to complete work that may be at a different grade to the job you are employed under. For example, someone employed as a waiter may be asked to do delivery work. You must be qualified to do that work. You will be paid at the same award or a higher award if your new work is of a higher classification. 
Your employer can also direct you to take paid annual leave. 
Section 4. Further Assistance
Problems paying bills
If you can't pay your electricity, gas, phone or water bill, contact your service provider straight away. They will explain your options, such as:
• an extension to pay
• paying in instalments
• Centrelink deductions (Centrepay)
• applying for a utility rebate or voucher
• Care Packs
Victorians in mandatory self-isolation running short on food and unable to have any dropped-off by friends are now eligible for a “food and personal care package”, with a two-weeks supply of items like long-life milk, pasta, canned fruit, cereal and sugar, as well as some personal care items.
People wishing to request a pack should call Victoria’s dedicated coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398.
Housing
If your housing needs become acute, visit Housing Victoria.
Mental health support
While it is reasonable for people to be concerned about the outbreak of coronavirus, try to remember that medical, scientific and public health experts around the world are working hard to contain the virus, treat those affected and develop a vaccine as quickly as possible.
Your mental health critical during this period of significant disruption by coronavirus, and support is available.
Head to Health is a Commonwealth Government digital mental health portal which provides guidance on how to maintain good mental health during the coronavirus pandemic and in self-isolation, how to support children and loved ones, and how to access further mental health services and care. https://headtohealth.gov.au.
Beyond Blue has coronavirus resources to help at https://www.beyondblue.org.au
Lifeline is a national charity open to all Australians in personal crisis. They have 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. http://www.lifeline.org.au/
Headspace is the national youth mental health foundation. They can help young people aged 12-25 who are going through a tough time. http://www.headspace.org.au/
Assistance from financial institutions Mortgages
Australian banks including the ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB, Westpac and Bendigo Bank have announced that they will pause loan repayments for individuals in financial difficulty as a result of the impact of COVID-19.
Customers should contact banks directly on the numbers below to discuss their individual circumstances and access support.
ANZ: 1800 351 548 
Commonwealth Bank: 132 607 
NAB: 1300 769 650 
Westpac: 132 142 
Bendigo Bank: 1300 236 344
Financial difficulty and hardship assistance
Financial difficulty and hardship assistance may also be available from your bank to assist in the event of personal circumstances changing as the result of job loss. Customers should contact their banks directly to discuss what options may be available.
Financial counselling service
A range of professional advice is available to help individuals who are struggling to find a way to meet their financial obligations during COVID-19 to make important decisions about their financial situation.
• The National Debt Helpline provides a free financial counselling services is offered by the on 1800 007 007. The service is available on weekdays between 9.30am to 4.30pm.
• MoneyHelp is a non-profit service providing free, confidential and independent financial counselling and debt advice.
• MoneySmart is an initiative of the Australian Securities Investments Commission that offers tips and tools to help you with topics such as managing your money, credits, insurance, superannuation and investing. Their website offers a useful resource for individuals who facing financial difficulty and hardship as a result of COVID-19
No Interest Loans Scheme
No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS) provides individuals and families on low incomes with access to safe, fair and affordable credit.
Loans are available for essential goods and services such as fridges, washing machines, car repairs and medical procedures for up to $1,500. Repayments are set at an affordable amount over 12 to 18 months.
NILS is offered by 170 local community organisations in over 600 locations across Australia.
Access to superannuation Some people may be employed but experiencing a reduced income stream due to COVID-19, such as:
• Sole traders
• Part-time or casual workers who have had their shifts cut
• Full-time workers who have had hours cut to part-time
People who can show they are otherwise employed but currently experiencing reduced income due to the nature of their work have the option of applying for partial early access to superannuation. Up to $20,000 may be claimed from their superannuation accounts over two years. Applications are made to the ATO. This is only optional, not compulsory, and income support payments may better suit an individual’s needs. For more information, please see this Fact Sheet from the Federal Government.
Section 5. Changes to tenancy arrangements
National Cabinet has agreed to measures to assist renters in residential tenancies.
State and territory governments, including Victoria, will be moving to put a moratorium on evictions of persons if they are unable to meet their financial commitments (i.e. payment of rent) as a result of financial distress caused by Coronavirus. This moratorium on evictions will be in place for approximately the next six months.
Further details on these arrangements are expected from the Victorian Government in coming days.

 

 

Published in Media
Friday, 03 April 2020 10:13

Business support during COVID-19

This fact sheet provides information regarding the support available to businesses in response to the disruption caused by COVID-19. It is organised into the following sections: 
Section 1. Federal Government Support 
Section 2. Victorian Government Support  
Section 3. Other Support 
Section 4. Restrictions on Operations 
Section 1. Federal Government Support
CORONAVIRUS APP 
A coronavirus app and WhatsApp channel have been released by the Commonwealth Government. The app is available on Apple and Android devices. The WhatsApp channel can be accessed by entering aus.gov.au/whatsapp into your internet browser.
This platform provides a trusted source of information for Australians looking for important advice on how they can protect themselves and others, current restrictions on social gatherings, how they can access support and the latest data on Australian cases.
The app also allows Australians to voluntarily register if they are self-isolating to provide governments with important information to protect public health and safety.
HELPLINE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES IMPACTED BY COVID-19
The Federal Government’s Business Hotline - 13 28 46 - has been expanded to provide specialist advisers and extended hours to support small and medium businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The hotline is available to provide businesses readily available access to advice so they can fully understand the assistance available to them and their employees.
This service is available to provide support seven days per week, and provide an additional two hours a day of support outside standard operating hours for the first month, answering calls from 7.00 am to 11.00pm AEST.
SUPPORT FOR BUSINESS CASH FLOW
The Federal Government is providing up to $100,000 over two quarters to eligible small and medium sized businesses, and not-for-profits (NFPs) (including charities) that employ people. These payments will help businesses and NFPs with their cash flow so they can keep operating, pay their rent, electricity and other bills and retain staff.
Who:
• Small and medium sized businesses, including not-for-profit organisations, that employ people and have an aggregated annual turnover up to $50 million will be eligible.
What:
• Employers will receive a first round payment equal to 100 per cent of their salary and wages withheld, with the maximum payment now set at $50,000.
• The minimum payment is now $10,000.
• A second round payment of the same value will be introduced for the July-October 2020 period for those who were eligible to receive a payment in the first round, provided the business or entity is still active.
How:
The payment will be delivered by the ATO as an automatic credit in the activity statement system from 28 April 2020 upon employers lodging eligible upcoming activity statements. The payments are tax-free and employers will not need to complete paperwork in addition to their normal activity statement.
• Eligible employers that withhold tax to the ATO on their employees’ salary and wages will receive a payment equal to 100 per cent of the amount withheld, up to a maximum payment of $50,000.
Eligible employers that pay salary and wages will receive a minimum payment of $10,000, even if they are not required to withhold tax.
ACCESS TO CREDIT
Guarantee Scheme
Participating lenders to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will have loans guaranteed by government. This guarantee is worth 50 per cent to SME lenders for new unsecured loans to be used for working capital. This will enhance these lenders’ willingness and ability to provide credit, which will result in SMEs being able to access additional funding to help support them through the upcoming months. SMEs with a turnover of up to $50 million will be eligible to receive these loans and the size of the loan is a maximum of $250,000.
Credit Enhancement
The Government is providing an exemption from responsible lending obligations for lenders providing credit to existing small business customers. This exemption is for six months, and
applies to any credit for business purposes, including new credit, credit limit increases and credit variations and restructures. By providing a temporary exemption from responsible lending obligations, this reform will help small businesses get access to credit quickly and efficiently. 
For more information on access to credit measures, please click here for the fact sheet. 
OTHER SUPPORT FOR BUSINESS 
Changes to insolvency and bankruptcy 
The Federal Government will implement changes to laws and regulations that govern business practices to ensure that businesses do not go under from being unable to meet their obligations due to complications arising from COVID-19. This includes changes to insolvency proceedings, changes to bankruptcy proceedings and changes to directors’ personal liability. For more information, see this fact sheet from the Federal Government. 
Land tax deferral 
This is assistance provided by the Victorian Government. For more information, see section on Victorian Government Support on page 6. 
Assets and depreciation changes 
Your business may be eligible for other assistance to support business investment and business capacity. See sections pertaining to the Instant Asset Write-Off and accelerated depreciation on page 4. 
SUPPORT WITH AND FOR EMPLOYEES
 
JobKeeper Payment 
A JobKeeper Payment is now available to provide businesses impacted by the Coronavirus access to a wage subsidy from the Government to continue paying their employees. More related to this scheme can be found on this fact sheet. 
Affected employers will be able to claim a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee from 30 March 2020, for a maximum of 6 months. Eligible employees will receive a minimum of $1,500 per fortnight, before tax. 
Employers will be eligible for the subsidy if: 
• their business has a turnover of less than $1 billion and their turnover will be reduced by more than 30 per cent relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month); or 
• their business has a turnover of $1 billion or more and their turnover will be reduced by more than 50 per cent relative to a comparable period a year ago (of at least a month); and 
• the business is not subject to the Major Bank Levy. 
The employer must have been in an employment relationship with eligible employees as at 1 March 2020, and confirm that each eligible employee is currently engaged in order to receive JobKeeper Payments. 
Not-for-profit entities (including charities) and self-employed individuals (businesses without employees) that meet the turnover tests that apply for businesses are eligible to apply for JobKeeper Payments.
 
Business with employees and without employees (self-employed) can register interested applying for JobKeeper Payments. To register interest in JobKeeper Payments employers should submit an online form at: https://www.ato.gov.au/Job-keeper-payment/. 
Apprentices and trainees 
The Federal Government is supporting small business to retain their apprentices and trainees. 
Who: 
• The subsidy will be available to small businesses employing fewer than 20 full-time employees who retain an apprentice or trainee. The apprentice or trainee must have been in training with a small business as at 1 March 2020. 
• Employers of any size and Group Training Organisations that re-engage an eligible out-of-trade apprentice or trainee will also be eligible for the subsidy. 
What: 
• Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage paid during the 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. 
• Where a small business is not able to retain an apprentice, the subsidy will be available to a new employer. 
• Employers will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee ($7,000 per quarter). 
How: 
• Employers will be able to access the subsidy after an eligibility assessment is undertaken by an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) provider. 
• Employers can register for the subsidy from early April 2020. Final claims for payment must be lodged by 31 December 2020. 
• For further information on how to apply for the subsidy, including information on eligibility, contact an Australian Apprenticeship Support Network (AASN) provider. 
Payroll tax rebates 
This is assistance provided by the Victorian Government. For more information, see section on Victorian Government Support on page 5.
Federal Government assistance payments and income support for workers 
The Federal Government has announced a range of supplements, new payments and changes to eligibility requirement to reflect that employees who are stood down or have their work reduced require support with their income. 
People who do not already receive a payment from the federal government may receive one of the following: Youth Allowance as a job seeker, JobSeeker Payment and Parenting Payment. The usual waiting periods and mutual obligation requirements may not apply. For further information, please visit Services Australia. 
People who already receive a payment from the federal government may experience additional supplements or higher rates of the payments they already receive. For further information, please visit Services Australia. 
Those who are eligible for payments through either of the above categories, or who can show they are otherwise employed but currently experiencing reduced income due to the nature of their work, may also be able to apply for up to $20,000 from their superannuation accounts over two years. Applications are made to the ATO. For more information, please see this Fact Sheet from the Federal Government. 
SUPPORT FOR SOLE TRADERS 
JobKeeper payments 
A JobKeeper Payment is now available to provide businesses impacted by the Coronavirus access to a wage subsidy from the Federal Government. Sole traders may be eligible for this payment. More information related to this scheme can be found on page 3 of this document and on this Federal Government fact sheet. 
Early access to superannuation 
As sole traders may be experiencing reduced income to their business as a result of COVID-19, they may require access to an additional income stream. Sole traders are able to self-certify that their turnover has reduced by 20 per cent or more and apply to access a fixed amount of the superannuation, as above. This is only optional, not compulsory. For more information, please see this Fact Sheet from the Federal Government. 
Instant asset-write off 
Who: 
The Federal Government is expanding access to the Instant Asset Write-Off (IAWO) to include all businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million, up from $50 million. 
What: 
The IAWO threshold will be increased from $30,000 to $150,000. This allows businesses to immediately deduct purchases of eligible assets each costing less than $150,000. The threshold applies on a per asset basis, so eligible businesses can immediately write-off multiple assets.
Note: These arrangements apply until 30 June 2020. The IAWO is due to revert to $1,000 for small businesses (turnover less than $10 million) from 1 July 2020. 
How: 
This benefit can be claimed through ordinary reporting to the Tax Office for corporate taxation purposes. 
Enhanced depreciation measures 
Who: 
Eligibility applies to businesses with aggregated turnover below $500 million purchasing certain new depreciable assets. 
What: A deduction of 50 per cent of the cost of an eligible asset on installation, with existing depreciation rules applying to the balance of the asset’s cost. This applies to new assets that can be depreciated under Division 40 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (i.e. plant, equipment and specified intangible assets, such as patents) acquired after 12 March 2020 and first used or installed by 30 June 2021. Does not apply to second-hand Division 40 assets, or buildings and other capital works depreciable under Division 43. 
How: This benefit can be claimed through ordinary reporting to the Tax Office for corporate taxation purposes. 
Section 2. Victorian Government Support 
Business Hotline – 13 22 15 
The Victorian Government has launched a hotline for businesses dealing with the significant challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak. 
Businesses across the state can now access information on dealing with COVID-19 by calling the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15. 
Operators calling the hotline will be able to get information about support services, including those available through Business Victoria, which offers mentoring to help operators develop business continuity and recovery plans. 
Payroll Tax Relief 
The Victorian Government will provide full payroll tax refunds for the 2019-20 financial year to small and medium-sized businesses with a payroll of less than $3 million.
 
The Victorian Government has indicated that these payments will start flowing immediately. 
The assistance is a refund, not a loan.
 
Eligible businesses will also be able to defer any payroll tax for the first three months of the 2020/21 financial year until 1 January 2021.
More information about the administration of these relief measures will be sent directly to eligible businesses by the State Revenue Office.
 
Rent relief for tenants of Victorian Government buildings 
Commercial tenants in Victorian Government buildings can apply for rent relief. 
Land tax payments 
Land tax payments for 2020 will be deferred for eligible small businesses. Land owners due to pay 2020 land tax that have at least one non-residential property and total taxable landholdings below $1 million have the option of deferring their 2020 land tax payment until after 31 December 2020. If an eligible land owner has already paid their 2020 land tax they can request a return of the tax paid. 
The State Revenue Office will contact all taxpayers who are eligible for this deferral. 
Outstanding invoice payments by the Victorian Government 
The Victorian Government will pay all outstanding supplier invoices within five business days. The private sector is being urged to do the same where possible. 
Liquor licensing fees 
The Victorian Government will waive liquor licensing fees for 2020 for affected venues and small businesses. 
The State Revenue Office will administer the reimbursement, regardless of whether the license fee was paid to it or the Victorian Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation. 
Business Support Fund 
The Victorian Government will establish a Business Support Fund. The fund will support the hardest hit sectors including hospitality, tourism, accommodation, arts and entertainment, and retail. 
The Victorian Government will work with the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Australian Hotels Association and Ai Group to administer the fund. 
The fund is targeted at helping businesses survive and keep people in work that may not be eligible for payroll tax refunds due to their size.
 
Businesses can register interest in the fund online at: https://fs2.formsite.com/diirdwebteam3/u3qeftcfcc/index.html 
Working for Victoria Fund 
The Victorian Government will establish a Working for Victoria Fund in consultation with the Victorian Council of Social Services and Victorian Trades Hall Council.
The fund will help workers who have lost their jobs find new opportunities including work cleaning public infrastructure or delivering food – providing vital contributions to our state’s response to the pandemic and affording those Victorians security when it’s needed most.
 
Individuals can register interest in applying for work under the Working for Victoria Fund at: https://www.vic.gov.au/workingforvictoria 
Job matching services 
The Victorian Government will facilitate job matching to help Victorians find short-term or casual roles. 
Section 3. Other Support 
Mental health support 
While it is reasonable for people to be concerned about the outbreak of coronavirus, try to remember that medical, scientific and public health experts around the world are working hard to contain the virus, treat those affected and develop a vaccine as quickly as possible. 
The mental health of employers and workers is critical during this period of significant disruption by coronavirus, and support is available. 
Beyond Blue has coronavirus resources to help at https://www.beyondblue.org.au 
Lifeline is a national charity open to all Australians in personal crisis. They have 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services. http://www.lifeline.org.au/ 
Headspace is the national youth mental health foundation. They can help young people who are going through a tough time. http://www.headspace.org.au/ 
Support for business from banks 
Australian banks through the Australian Banking Association have announced its member banks – which include ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Westpac – have announced that they will defer loan repayments for businesses affected by the coronavirus. This applies to businesses who have business loans with a member bank, where the value of the loan is up to $10 million. This threshold covers around 98% of businesses. 
In addition to deferral of loan repayments, other measures your business may be eligible for include: 
• Waiving fees and charges 
• Interest free periods or no interest rate increases 
• Debt consolidation to help make repayments more manageable. 
For more information about the ABA’s announcement, click here. Businesses should contact their banks directly on the numbers below to discuss their circumstances and access support.
ANZ: 1800 351 548 Commonwealth Bank: 132 607 NAB: 1300 769 650 Westpac: 132 142 
Business continuity and recovery plans 
Best practice for businesses is to have a continuity plan. Business Victoria has information to help your business evaluate risk and prepare a risk management plan.
 
Once the initial damage assessment has been done on your business, you need to think about what you'll do long term and how you might respond and recover. 
Small Business Victoria provides low cost mentoring services to help you work through or develop a recovery plan. You can book an appointment with a mentor here. 
CPA Australia has developed some high-level tips to help businesses respond to COVID-19, including staying up-to-date with information, considering the potential impacts on your business, putting a contingency plan in place and seeking professional advice if required. 
You can access a detailed summary of potential actions and more resources for business at https://www.cpaaustralia.com.au/training-and-events/coronavirus-impact 
The Federal Government’s Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit is now operating out of the federal Treasury This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;
Employer obligations under Fair Work 
Whether the option of standing down employees is available in circumstances relating to coronavirus is very fact dependent and an employer should exercise the option cautiously. The employer must be able to demonstrate that: 
• there is a stoppage of work 
• the employees to be stood down cannot be usefully employed (which is not limited to the work an employee usually performs) 
• the cause of the stoppage must also be one that the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible for. 
Employers cannot generally stand down employees simply because of a deterioration of business conditions or because an employee has coronavirus. 
For more information, see the FairWork Ombudsman’s Coronavirus advice. 
Commercial tenancies 
National Cabinet agreed to a moratorium on evictions over the next six months for commercial tenancies in financial distress who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of coronavirus.
 
Commercial tenants, landlords and financial institutions are encouraged to sit down together to find a way through to ensure that businesses can survive and be there on the other side.
As part of this, National Cabinet agreed to a common set of principles, endorsed by Treasurers, to underpin and govern intervention to aid commercial tenancies as follows: 
• a short term, temporary moratorium on eviction for non-payment of rent to be applied across commercial tenancies impacted by severe rental distress due to coronavirus; 
• tenants and landlords are encouraged to agree on rent relief or temporary amendments to the lease; 
• the reduction or waiver of rental payment for a defined period for impacted tenants; 
• the ability for tenants to terminate leases and/or seek mediation or conciliation on the grounds of financial distress; 
• commercial property owners should ensure that any benefits received in respect of their properties should also benefit their tenants in proportion to the economic impact caused by coronavirus; 
• landlords and tenants not significantly affected by coronavirus are expected to honour their lease and rental agreements; and 
• cost-sharing or deferral of losses between landlords and tenants, with Commonwealth, state and territory governments, local government and financial institutions to consider mechanisms to provide assistance. 
Bank assistance to commercial landlords 
Commercial property landlords may be eligible for relief from their bank per the ABA assistance package detailed on pages 7-8 as long as they provide an undertaking to the bank that for the period of the interest capitalisation, the landlord will not terminate leases or evict current tenants for rent arrears as a result of COVID-19. 
Section 4. Restrictions on operations 
All businesses should continue to monitor government advice to ensure they are up to date with rules related to mass gathering and social distancing. 
Restrictions on business operations 
Current 31st March 2020 and enforced until 13th April 2020 unless otherwise extended. 
Further detailed information regarding restrictions on business operations can be found within the restricted activity direction available at: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/state-emergency 
If your business is not explicitly restricted by this list 
Open retail facilities must still follow rules. 
• Follow a density quotient (1 person per 4 square metres) and provide signage and directions to customers about the maximum number permitted 
• Clean surfaces at least twice on any given day, clean any surface when visibly soiled and immediately clean after spills. These cleaning products must either have anti-viral properties as specified on the packaging, or in keeping with instructions issued by DHHS.
•  
Pubs, bars, clubs, nightclubs and hotels
 
These licensed premises must not be operated except for those aspects of the premises which relate to: 
• Operating a bottleshop 
• Providing food or drink to be consumed elsewhere 
• Providing accommodation 
Recreational facilities 
These premises must not be operated: 
• Indoor physical recreation e.g. gym, indoor pool, health club and fitness centre, yoga studios, bathhouses and things of this nature 
• Outdoor physical recreation e.g. mini-golf centre, paintball centre, lawn bowling green, equestrian centre, rifle range and things of this nature even if density and social distancing are otherwise followed 
• Personal training facility 
• Community centre or community hall 
• Library and toy library 
• Gallery or museum 
• Youth centre and play centre 
• Outdoor communal gym equipment, skate parks and playgrounds in parks 
Except: 
• Where a recreational facility is operated solely for the purpose of an essential public service e.g. food bank or service for homeless persons 
• OR a wedding with maximum 5 persons, or a funeral with maximum 10 persons. Social distancing rules must be followed in these circumstances 
• Personal training or boot camps may be continued outdoors and on a one-on-one basis (trainer and client) 
• Outdoor tennis and outdoor basketball courts may operate provided there is only one court in use at all times, and balls or racquets are not provided for communal use. 
Entertainment facilities 
These premises must not be operated: 
Theatres, cinemas, music and concert halls, auditoriums 
Arenas, stadiums and convention centres 
Arcades and amusement parks 
Casinos and gambling businesses 
Adult services including brothels, sex-on-premises venues, strip clubs, escort services or other adult entertainment venue 
Exceptions: 
• The above may be operated for the purpose of allowing a recorded performance to occur where the only persons in attendance are those required for the performance 
Places of worship 
These premises, of any kind, must not operate except in the following circumstances: 
• The facility is being used for a wedding (maximum 5 people) or funeral (maximum 10 guests) 
• The facility is being used to host an essential public service e.g. a foodbank or service for homeless persons 
Restricted retail facilities 
These premises must not operate: 
• A beauty and personal care facility, such as those providing beauty therapy, waxing, nail services, a spa, massage parlours (non-medical massage), tattoos. These MAY operate for the purposes of providing, by delivery or collection, goods to a person’s private residence. 
• An auction house (other than to conduct auctions remotely) 
• A market stall, indoor or outdoor (other than where the market stall where the primary purpose is to provide food and drink for consumption elsewhere AND social distancing and density requirements are followed) 
• All firearms transactions including the sale, hire and loan of firearms and the sale of ammunition for the reasons of Sport or Target Shooting, Clay Target Shooting and Recreational Hunting are prohibited. Those transactions that related to genuine occupational usage remain unaffected. 
Food and drink facilities 
These include cafes, restaurants, fast-food stores, cafeterias and canteens and can only operate under these circumstances: 
• For the purpose of delivery and collection of take-away food, and where that food will be consumed elsewhere 
• Where the purpose is to provide food or drink to homeless persons 
• If the facility is part of the food provision services of a hospital, residential aged care facility, school, place of custody or defence location 
Accommodation facilities 
These, which include camping grounds and caravan parks, must not operate except:
• Where a person is an ordinary resident, or is an ordinary resident of Victoria but has no fixed address 
• Where a person’s ordinary residence is temporarily unavailable 
• Where a person requires emergency accommodation 
Swimming pools 
A person in charge of a premises where there is a swimming pool must not permit any person to use it, including public pools and private pools for communal use. This excludes where a pool is at a private residence and not available for communal use. 
Animal facilities 
Exceptions apply for animal care, animal rescue and facility maintenance, but the following animal facilities are not permitted to operate: 
• Zoos 
• Wildlife centres 
• Petting zoos 
• Aquariums 
• Animal farms that are not for the purpose of producing food 
Real estate auctions and inspections 
An estate agent must not organise any auction (other than remotely) to take place, or any inspection of a residential property (other than by private appointment) for the purpose of a sale or leasing.
 
Visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au for the latest updates – issued daily – and additional stages of non-essential activity closure.
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