Letter to Member; Small Business Package, Tenancy and Qantas

April 3, 2020

GOOD NEWS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

The NSW Government has this morning announced a $750 million-dollar package for small business whereby small businesses will receive grants of up to $10,000 to help with their cash flow. It is intended that businesses such as cafes, restaurants, corner shops, shops, gyms and small accommodation providers will be eligible applicants. Key features of the package are:

  • The grants will apply to small businesses with a turnover of more than $79,000 and which have between 1-19 employees.
  • It applies to businesses with a payroll below the payroll tax threshold of $900,000
  • The business must be highly impacted by the current Coronavirus restrictions. That is be highly impacted by the Public Health (Covid-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020 issued on 30 March 2020.
  • Businesses must have an ABN as at 1 March 2020.
  • It is intended that businesses are to use the funding for unavoidable business costs such as utilities, overheads, legal costs and financial advice.
  • Applications for the grant will be available through Service NSW within a fortnight and will remain open until 1 June 2020. It will be necessary to provide appropriate documentation when applying. Precise criteria for a successful application should then be clearer.

See the full Media Release: https://www.nsw.gov.au/your-government/the-premier/media-releases-from-the-premier/10000-grants-to-provide-fast-relief-for-nsw-small-businesses-battling-covid-19/

TENANCY
This is a complicated and financially difficult area, balancing the interests of landlords against tenants, particularly where tenants have closed their doors and have no cash flow to speak of.

Today, the Prime Minister again foreshadowed a mandatory code of conduct to apply to commercial tenancies. The plan is to incorporate the code into State and Territory legislation. It will apply where there is a turnover of less than $50 million and where the tenant is entitled is eligible for the JobKeeper allowance. The mandatory code will be guided by certain principles:

  • Where it can, rent should continue to be paid
  • Where there is financial stress from COVID-19 and where for example a tenant is eligible for the JobKeeper program landlords and tenants should negotiate a mutually agreed outcome.
  • There is to be proportionality to rent reductions based on the decline in turnover.
  • Prohibition on termination of leases for non-payment of rent.
  • Freeze on rent increases.
  • Prohibition on penalties for tenants who stop trading or have reduced trading hours.
  • Prohibition on landlords passing land tax to tenants.
  • Prohibition on landlords charging interest on unpaid rent and making a claim upon a bank guarantee or security deposit.

Please see the full Media Release by the Prime Minister: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/update-coronavirus-measures-030420

The proposed code of Conduct is to be discussed by the National Cabinet on 7 April 2020.

The Media release also contained statements on Religious Services, Easter Holidays and Childcare and Education.

QANTAS
Both Barnaby Joyce and Adam Marshall have quickly responded to my correspondence about the QantasLink service to Armidale. Both have been communicating/lobbying with Qantas to ensure a service will continue to Armidale. While no decision has been reached, I’m optimistic of an outcome that is satisfactory, given that the aviation industry has fallen off a cliff because of COVID-19. I will let you know as soon as I hear further.

OF INTEREST
While trolling through news reports I found this which may be of interest for some of you: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-03/coronavirus-rules-restrictions-can-i-go-fishing-visit-relatives/12112446

As we head towards Easter keep social distancing.

Best wishes,

 Anthony

Anthony Fox
President
Armidale Business Chamber
afox@foxlegal.com.au
m. 0402 838 077

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