Tax relief for businesses
THE Victorian Government will deliver an extra $64m for bushfire-affected communities in a package that will fast-track payroll tax relief, slash stamp duty, waive water rates and provide extra support for local councils.
The package was announced on Monday by Premier Daniel Andrews and Bushfire Recovery Victoria chairman Ken Lay.
The package includes immediate regional payroll tax relief in ‘State of Disaster’ areas, which includes the Alpine and Wangaratta shires, Mount Hotham and Falls Creek. Employers in these areas will only pay 25 per cent of the metropolitan rate.
Also included is a 50 per cent concession on stamp duty for eligible properties, allowing businesses to relocate, expand or move into fire-affected areas.
The government will also establish a $10 million Council Assistance Fund, administered by Bushfire Recovery Victoria, for local governments in State of Disaster areas to access funding for people who have damaged or destroyed property, support businesses subject to annual charges or permits, or to waive other fees or charges.
Eligible councils will be able to determine how best to allocate their funding, which may include rate relief for residents and businesses if they choose. The state does not have jurisdiction to waive council rates.
“This is immediate and practical support to families and businesses who have been through so much,” Mr Andrews said.
“We can’t change what these communities have been through, but we’re doing what we can to make the recovery that little bit easier.”
Tim McCurdy (MLA, Ovens Valley) criticised the measures as not going far enough.
“Daniel Andrews has spent all of our money in Melbourne and here’s his first opportunity to support regional Victoria businesses and we really just get the scraps off the table,” Mr McCurdy said.
“It really is a pretty soft approach. He needs to dig deeper, he needs to really come and support our regional communities because he certainly hasn’t done that.”
Secretary of the Bright and District Chamber of Commerce, Bruce Hore, said payroll tax relief for employers was something the chamber had requested at a business chamber roundtable with the Prime Minister in Canberra two weeks ago.
“For small businesses, cashflow is king, and these measures seem to support the freeing up of cash-flow,” he said.
The Bright chamber met with the Business Council of Australia in Canberra yesterday, and is meeting with the Alpine Shire Council today to discuss what more can be done to support businesses recover from an estimated shire-wide $90 million hit to business this month.
“We need to ensure government departments understand the economic impact is beyond damaged properties,” Mr Hore said.
“The chamber is excited about the grants and loans on offer, but there needs to be clear and concise instructions on how to apply for them.”