Businesses across the region have until mid-November 2021 to apply for the Commonwealth and State Governments’ $600 million Queensland COVID-19 Business Support Grants.
The joint agreement between the two governments saw the initial $260 million package more than double to include support for sole traders and to boost funding for small and medium-sized businesses and large tourism and hospitality businesses.
Organisations who have experienced a decline in turnover of more than 30 per cent due to nationwide lockdowns can apply for between $1,000 and $30,000 in funding thanks to the increased support package.
Cairns Chamber of Commerce CEO Patricia O’Neill said the group is still working closely with the government following the funding announcement.
“The Cairns Chamber of Commerce has continued to have an open line of communication with the Minister for Department of Employment, Small Business and Training, the Hon. Di Farmer MP in relation to the urgent recognition, inclusion and compensation for sole traders, all business sectors and all areas affected by being ‘locked out’.”
Ms O’Neill said it was vital that the government support all traders, not just those in lockdown.
“We stressed to the minister that this was not a time for ‘cherry picking’ specific industries to provide support.
“The supply chain effect of lack of visitation is crucifying Cairns businesses and they need this lifeline urgently to keep their doors open.”
Queensland Treasurer and Minister for Investment Cameron Dick said the agreement would boost support, not just for businesses that were affected by the three-day Cairns and Yarrabah lockdown, but for those that continue to suffer because of lockdowns in other jurisdictions.
“We know that across Queensland, the lack of international and interstate visitors is affecting businesses every day, especially those in tourism and hospitality,” the Queensland Treasurer said.
“This dollar-for-dollar agreement with the Federal Government will see Queensland’s contribution rise to $300 million and vastly increase the scope of support available to businesses right across the state.”
Tourism Tropical North Queensland CEO Mark Olsen said the added support was vital for many businesses who are still seeing cancellations of forward bookings as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.
“In response to the desperate need for direct support for our region, TTNQ, Advance Cairns and the Cairns Chamber of Commerce advocated directly for the State and Federal Governments to collaborate to help businesses keep staff employed while the region’s visitor numbers plummet to the lowest levels since we entered lockdown in March 2020,” said Mr Olsen.
“Both levels of government have taken swift and decisive action with a targeted response for those businesses most impacted across the state.
“This direct cash injection will be needed by many businesses who are facing their worst situation since the pandemic began.”
Applications for Queensland businesses close on November 16, while non-employing sole traders have until November 30 to apply.
All eligible businesses who apply for grants in the application period will receive funding.