Business Environment

Support Measures to Assist Businesses Affected by COVID-19

6 April, 2020, Posted By TVL Chamber

In response to the coronavirus, several support packages for small businesses, sole traders and individuals have been announced to reduce the impact.


Updated 6 April 2020, 12:20pm

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Private and Industry



Economic Stimulus Package – Stage 1 and 2

The Australian Government has released two stages of economic responses to the Coronavirus outbreak, totalling $189 billion in support.

Read the most recent overview here.


These actions provide timely support to affected workers, businesses and the broader community.

The Government’s economic response targets three areas:

  • Support for business – small business and sole-traders
  • Support for individuals and households (inc. sole-traders)
  • Supporting the flow of credit
SME Guarantee Scheme

The Government will establish the Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme which will support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to get access to working capital to help them get them through the impact of the coronavirus.

Under the Scheme, the Government will guarantee 50 per cent of new loans issued by eligible lenders to SMEs.

The Government’s support will enhance lenders’ willingness and ability to provide credit to SMEs with the Scheme able to support $40 billion of lending to SMEs.

The Scheme will complement the announcement the Government has made to cut red-tape to allow SMEs to get access to credit faster. It also complements announcements made by Australian banks to support small businesses with their existing loans.

This builds on the investment the Government is making to enable smaller lenders to continue supporting Australian consumers and small businesses, through providing the AOFM an investment capacity of $15 billion to invest in wholesale funding markets used by small authorised deposit-taking institutions (ADI) and non-ADI lenders.

It further supports the Reserve Bank of Australia’s announcement of a $90 billion term funding facility that will reduce the cost of lending, with particular incentives to lend to small and medium enterprises.

The Government will guarantee up to $20 billion to support $40 billion in SME loans.

Increased Instant Asset Write-Off Threshold

Lifting the threshold to $150,000 (from $30,000) and expanding access to businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million) until 30 June 2020 for small businesses and sole-traders. The threshold applies on per asset basis, so eligible businesses can immediately write-off multiple assets.

Backing Business Investment

$3.2 billion to back business investment by providing a time limited 15 month investment incentive (through to 30 June 2021) to support business investment and economic growth over the short term, by accelerating depreciation deductions. Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct an additional 50 per cent of the asset cost in the year of purchase.

Boosting Cash Flow for Employers

Eligible small and medium-sized businesses with an aggregated turnover under $50 million that employ staff can receive support to cover the costs of employee wages and salaries equal to 50 percent of their Business Activity Statements or Instalment Activity Statement, with a minimum payment of $2000 and a maximum of $25,000 over six months.  Businesses that pay salary and wages but are not required to withhold tax will also receive the minimum payment of $2000. This payment will be tax-free.

Supporting Apprentices and Trainees

Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. The subsidy of up to a maximum of $21,000 will be available. Where a small business is not able to retain an apprentice, the subsidy will be available to their new employer. The wage subsidy will be claimable for wages paid since 1 January 2020. Employers can register for the subsidy from 2 April 2020. Final claims for payment must be lodged by 31 December 2020.

The subsidy will be available to small businesses employing fewer than 20 full-time employees who retain an apprentice or trainee. Employers of any size and Group Training Organisations that re-engage an out-of-trade apprentice or trainee may be eligible for the subsidy. The apprentice or trainee must have been in-training with a small business as at 1 March 2020.

Assistance for Affected Regions, Communities and Industries

$1 billion has been allocated to support those sectors, regions and communities that have been disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of the Coronavirus, including those heavily reliant on industries such as tourism, agriculture and education. This will include the waiver of fees and charges for tourism businesses that operate in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Commonwealth National Parks. It will also include additional assistance to help businesses identify alternative export markets or supply chains. Targeted measures will also be developed to further promote domestic tourism. Further plans and measures to support recovery will be designed and delivered in partnership with the affected industries and communities.

Providing Temporary Relief for Financially Distressed Businesses

The Government is temporarily increasing the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive. The package also includes temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent.  The Corporations Act 2001 will be amended to provide temporary and targeted relief for companies to deal with unforeseen events that arise as a result of the COVID-19.

Increased and Accelerated Income Support for Individuals

The Government is temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight. This supplement will be paid to both existing and new recipients of the eligible payment categories. These changes will apply for the next six months.

This will be paid to both existing and new recipients of the JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit.

Eligible income support recipients will receive the full amount of the $550 supplement on top of their payment each fortnight.

An increase of up to 5,000 staff for Services Australia will assist to support delivery of new Government measures.

Payments to Support Households

The Government is providing two separate $750 payments to social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders. Around half of those that benefit are pensioners.

These payments will support households to manage the economic impact of the Coronavirus.

  • The first payment (announced on 12 March 2020) will be available to people who are eligible payment recipients and concession card holders at any time from 12 March 2020 to 13 April 2020 inclusive.
  • The second payment will be available to people who are eligible payment recipients and concession card holders on 10 July 2020.

A person can be eligible to receive both a first and second support payment. However, they can only receive one $750 payment in each round of payments, even if they qualify in each round of the payments in multiple ways.

The payment will be exempt from taxation and will not count as income for the purposes of Social Security, Farm Household Allowance and Veteran payments.

Temporary Early Release of Superannuation

The Government will allow individuals in financial stress as a result of COVID-19 to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21.

Eligible individuals will be able to apply online through myGov for access of up to $10,000 of their superannuation before 1 July 2020. They will also be able to access up to a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 for another three months. They will not need to pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw will not affect Centrelink or Veterans’ Affairs payments.

Temporary Reduction of Superannuation Minimum Drawdown Rates

The Government is temporarily reducing superannuation minimum drawdown requirements for account-based pensions and similar products by 50 per cent for 2019-20 and 2020-21. This measure will benefit retirees by providing them with more flexibility as to how they manage their superannuation assets.


ATO – Support for Businesses

The ATO is working to support business experiencing financial difficulty as a result of ther COVID-19 outbreak, implementing a series of relief options.

Relief options will not be automatically applied. To discuss which relief options apply to your business, contact the ATO on the Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218.

The ATO has established a temporary email contact point for additional issues or specific questions on COVID-190. Email the ATO at [email protected].

For more information on specific relief options, please click here.


Australian Banks – Small Business Relief Package

Australian banks have developed a Small Business Relief Package to assist owners affected by COVID-19. Read the media release here.

The package will include the deferral of small business loans for up to six months. This assistance package will apply to more than $100bn of existing small business loans.

Depending of customer take-up, the assistance could put as much as $8bn back into the pockets of small businesses.

Small business owners are encouraged to call their bank directly to apply or speak to a trusted Advisor for assistance.



Queensland Government COVID-19 Economic Relief Package

Queensland COVID-19 Jobs Support Loans

You may be eligible for a loan to retain employees and maintain your operations.

The $500 million concessional loan facility will include low interest loans of up to $250,000 for carry on finance with an initial 12-month interest free period for businesses to retain staff.

Register your interest through the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority or contact 1800 623 946.

Payroll Tax Relief

The Queensland Government has introduced a range of payroll tax relief measures to support businesses impaced by coronavirus (COVID-19). With the update from 24 March 2020, the measures now include:

  • refunds of payroll tax for 2 months
  • a payroll tax holiday for 3 months
  • deferral of paying payroll tax for the 2020 calendar year

For eligibility criteria, visit the OSR Connect website here.

Fees and Charges Relief for Tourism Operators and Hospitality Providers Impacted by COVID-19

Fees and charges relief for tourism operators and hospitality providers include:

Support for Fisheries

Market diversification and resilience grants will be available to support activities including, but not limited to, market evaluation studies, market visits, training, new processing equipment such as refrigeration or cryovac machines, and boat modifications necessary to meet new market requirements.

The catch area for tropical rock lobster will be extended for three months to reduce operating costs for quota holders and enable alternative markets to be developed.

Fishing boat licence fees and quota fees for tropical rock lobster and coral trout will be temporarily waived.

For further information, fishers can contact the DAF Customer Service Centre on 13 25 23.

Small Business Financial Counselling Service

Small businesses in North Queensland who have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak are now able to contact the Small Business Financial Counselling Service. To contact the North Queensland branch, phone (07) 4652 5669.

Mentoring for Growth

The Mentoring for Growth program has more than 50 mentors ready to connect with impacted small businesses. Mentors are available to provide tailored support including financial mentoring and business planning. For more information, visit the website, call 1300 654 687 or email here.

Manufacturing Hubs Grants Program

The Manufacturing Hubs Grant Program (MHGP) offers grants up to $1 million to established regional Queensland manufacturers, particularly small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the manufacturing sector, on their journey to Advanced Manufacturing – Industry 4.0. The MHGP is not available to start-up businesses or partnerships. There are offices based in Cairns, Townsville and Rockhampton.

For more information on eligibility and processes, please click here.


Townsville City Council Operations Package

Townsville City Council has added additional measures to the multimillion-dollar support package targeted at providing extra support to small businesses feeling the effects of COVID-19.

Rate extensions

Townsville City Council will help families and businesses directly impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic by providing those ratepayers an extra three month extension on rates notices.

If any ratepayers have been severely impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic, and experiencing financial hardship, please contact Council to discuss individual payment plans on 13 48 10.

Free carparking in the CBD

All Council-controlled (including on-street) parking will be free in the CBD for the period of 25 March until 30 June 2020.

Applicable to all Council pay and display areas, however time restrictions still apply and will be enforced.


Until 30 June 2020, Council will provide a rebate on its adopted charges by setting fees and charges payable to the Townsville City Council for that period (including the pro rata portion of any annual fee):

(a) under the Food Act 2006 at $0.00, and when those fees have already been paid,
providing an appropriate credit towards future fees; and

(b)  for outdoor dining and temporary food stall approvals at $0.00, and when those fees
have already been paid, providing an appropriate credit towards future fees.

(Please note refunds of the credit amount will not be given).

Events and venues

Townsville City Council will refund the hiring and other fees associated with the proposed use of any Townsville City Council venue that is unable to proceed because of the coronavirus control measures.

TicketShop will refund all tickets for shows at the Civic Theatre that have been cancelled because of the coronavirus control measures.


Townsville Enterprise Business Impact Survey

Townsville Enterprise have developed a survey for businesses across all industries to better understand the broader economic impacts currently felt across our region and anticipated future challenges from Coronavirus.

Take the survey here.

Private and Industry

WorkCover QLD – FAQ

WorkCover QLD have created a Frequently Asked Questions page to assist businesses and stakeholders in relation to COVID-19. here

ADITS – Technology Contingency Helpline

In light of recent events, Townsville Chamber member ADITS have decided to open a helpline to support businesses in creating a technology contingency plan. This will provide businesses with options, such as remote access, should they, or there staff be required to self-isolate. This plan will also provide staff who are classified as high risk with the flexibility to self-isolate, should they need to. This is expected to alleviate stress for both business owners and fellow colleagues.

Businesses are encouraged to call the helpline on 0747 599 428 to begin discussing their options.

For more information, visit the media release here.


Towers Business Development – Survival in Difficult Times Product Package

Towers Business Development Pty Ltd has developed a complete “Survival in Difficult Times Product Package” to assist businesses to review all aspects of their business to increase the chances of being able to successfully survive this very “Difficult Time”. This package includes a COVID-19/Natural Disaster Strategy Checklist to assist businesses to ensure that key items are not overlooked in planning and also includes a free webinar for small businesses and medium-sized enterprises on the challenges confronting businesses from COVID-19 and Natural Disasters.

For more information about the Survival in Difficult Times Product Package, please click here.


CCIQ – Free 12-Month Membership

In the face of the emerging health and economic crisis, CCIQ are offering all businesses a free 12-month membership, including HR Advice, worth $750+GST*. Many businesses are going to face extremely complex situations and they need all the support they can get. To control business costs, CCIQ have *limited the offer to 30 March.

Apply here.


Facebook – Small Business Grants Program

To assist businesses affected by the outbreak of COVID-19, Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits to eligible small businesses to assist with supporting a workforce, helping with rent costs, connecting with more customers via social media and covering operational costs. Up to 30,000 small businesses in over 30 countries will be eiligible fore the grant. More details are yet to be released.

Register for updates here.


Free Software and Resources  for Small Business

CCIQ has provided a list of free resources and discounted rates from software providers to help small businesses during the outbreak. Read more here.

G-Suite – Free Enterprise Edition until July 1st

Google announced this past week that they are going to be giving access to their advanced Hangouts Meet feature to all Education and G Suite customers up until the first of July this year. The extension will allow G Suite Education and G Suite Basic users to access Enterprise features such as permitting up to 250 individuals to take part in a call, capability to record and save meetings, and livestreaming content for thousands of viewers.

Free Freemium Microsoft Teams and Office 365

Microsoft is offering unlimited chat, built-in group and one-on-one audio or video calling, 10 GB of team file storage and 2 GB of personal file storage per user. You also get real-time collaboration with the Office apps for web, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote.

Free – Zoom Basic Plan

Zoom (video conferencing software) is offering up to 100 participants in a meeting and hold unlimited one-on-one meetings with the video-conference provider’s complimentary plan. This does provide a 40-minute limit on group meetings, though you’re not limited to the number of meetings.

Free Sophos Home Commercial Edition

Sophos customers can get free business-level protection for their employees’ personal PCs and Macs with our Sophos Home Commercial Edition program for the duration of the COVID-19 global health concern.

Contact your Sophos representative to request free protection.

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