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Changes to Bushfire Assistance Package Welcome

COSBOA welcomes the changes to the small business bushfire assistance package that have been announced by Senator Michaelia Cash and David Littleproud today. These changes will see a much needed reduction of the red tape associated with the grants process and will deliver new grants to support small businesses that have suffered financial loss as a result of large-scale evacuations of regional areas or widespread road closures that were maintained for weeks – a group that was excluded in the original measures.

Peter Strong, CEO of COSBOA, stated “These changes have our unequivocal support. The new $10,000 grant for those who have been impacted as a result of lost tourism traffic over the summer period is very welcome, and more feet on the ground to support local bookkeepers and accountants to help their small business customers is proactive and needed. Changes to the Bushfire Disaster Relief Loans Programme, which remove the need for personal assets to be used to secure loans of up to $50k is also a very welcome change.”

COSBOA notes that we have been listened to and thanks the Ministers who are charged with representing small business. These lessons must be heeded as the Government prepares to launch an additional assistance package in the face of the COVID-19 threat.

“The initial response was well aimed and now with lessons learned it becomes a better response with assistance extended to businesses that were not directly burnt as a result of the fires but were heavily impacted. In addition, it is pleasing that bureaucrats at the federal, state and territory levels have recognised that small business owners don’t have the time to wade through complex guidelines and fill out 17 page applications with supporting material while they are struggling to keep their doors open”, Mr Strong said.

“We have been working with the Federal Small Business Minister, Senator Michaelia Cash, to highlight the need for improvement of the original programme and are very pleased with the outcome of this work”, said Mr Strong.

“It just goes to show that the people who are best placed to be leading the design and implementation of measures to support small business are the people who have been charged with representing them in the first place. It is better for Treasury officials and other Canberra bureaucrats to work with those who understand small business than for them to work in isolation”, Mr Strong said.

“In times like this, all governments need to work with those who understand small business, including the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, state small business commissioners, and the industry bodies that exist to provide a voice for Australia’s 2.3M small business owners”, Mr Strong said.

“Minister Cash deeply understands small business needs and, together with Minister Littleproud, the two Ministers have developed a series of measures that will address the problems that have been experienced with the operation of the national bushfire assistance programmes to date”, Mr Strong added.

“The baton has now been handed to the states and territories and our hope is that they implement these revised arrangements immediately so that impacted small businesses get the much needed assistance they need to keep their doors open and their staff employed”, said Mr Strong.



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