Letter to Member; COVID-19. Cautious Optimism

April 26, 2020

Dear Member / Friend,

With the number of Coronvavirus cases having fallen and now staying low, there is some cause for optimism, though as you know it will be a long time before life gets back to normal.

It is noticeable that more people are in Armidale CBD and that a few shops have reopened. As shops reopen, please support these businesses as far as possible, while keeping within the social distancing rules.

The Prime Minister last Friday (24/4/2020) unveiled new workplace safety principles. The 10 principles have been agreed by the National Cabinet of State, Territory and Federal Governments, been developed in response to COVID-19 and are intended to provide national consistency for COVID-19 work safety while recognising that States and Territories have their own jurisdictions for work health and safety.

The 10 principles can be found in the PM’s press release: https://www.pm.gov.au/media/update-coronavirus-measures-24april20

See also the Safe Work Australia website: https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/covid-19-information-workplaces/industry-information-covid-19

This package is intended to safeguard local councils in terms of jobs, infrastructure and council services. The NSW Treasurer has stated that the COVID-19 crisis has hit Councils hard financially. The package is intended to help Councils at present and to help them bounce back “once we come out of the other side”.

The package includes a $250 million increase in low-cost loans to eligible councils through the State’s borrowing facility.

$112.5 million is allocated to maintain council jobs.

We will need to see what this means in reality and how it unravels for Armidale.

Under this package, employers must pay their employees $1,500.00 per fortnight before being reimbursed. This has meant that some eligible businesses have paid some employees more than what they normally earn or have not had the ready cash to do so, or both. They will get their money back but still may have needed to borrow from their bank to do so. It should be kept in mind at this point that the ATO will be repaying employees on a monthly basis.

The ATO has recently set out alternative tests for a fall in turnover where, for various entities, there is not a relevant comparison period to show a drop in income, 30% in the case of small businesses. There are a number of tests relating to the commencement of the business and disposal of businesses where the current business is therefore not the same as the earlier business. As well the ATO has introduced a test where employees are paid by a special purpose entity.

Significantly, an alternative test also applies where the business was affected by drought or other declared natural disaster during the comparison period.

For full details of where an alternative test applies, see: https://ministers.treasury.gov.au/ministers/josh-frydenberg-2018/media-releases/jobkeeper-update and the ATO website: https://www.ato.gov.au/General/JobKeeper-Payment/In-detail/Applying-the-turnover-test/?anchor=Alternativetest#Alternativetest

For those that are concerned as to whether they come  within the alternative tests, I suggest you talk to your accountant or other financial adviser.

Very sadly, Jane Hannon, the owner of “Things with a Difference” in the Armidale Mall, passed away this week after a long illness. Jane was a very capable and delightful shop owner known by many for much longer than I. Not only has Armidale lost a great shop, but it has also lost a top person and a keen advocate for Armidale.

To her husband, Greg, and their family, the Chamber extends its heartfelt condolences.

The Chamber is working with Mandy Walker developing a business focused program, these will include commenting on cashflow, profit and loss and positioning your product. These will be of interest to businesses looking at how they will emerge, once the social distancing rules are relaxed.

Mandy Walker is still available for those that wish to have a free, confidential  business coaching session with Mandy, a well-known business coach. Her contact number is 0459 098 618.

Stay distant.

Best Wishes,


Anthony Fox
Armidale Business Chamber
m. 0402 838 077


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