$51 million help for businesses damaged or destroyed by bushfires
The Commonwealth and the Victorian Governments are standing by businesses directly damaged or destroyed by the bushfires, with the $51 million first stage of a joint package to assist small businesses focusing on subsidised low-interest loans, business assistance grants and business re-start mentors.
The Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the Premier of Victoria John Brumby today announced the package aimed at businesses directly damaged or destroyed by the bushfires.
“Thousands of small businesses have been directly damaged or destroyed by these terrible bushfires – and the Victorian and Commonwealth governments are targeting assistance to rebuild these businesses,” Mr Rudd said.
“We are committed to rebuilding the towns destroyed by these terrible bushfires. This business assistance package is a key component in the action we are taking to help communities rebuild.”
Mr Brumby said up to $25,000 was available to businesses damaged or destroyed by the bushfires, with an initial payment of $5000 up front.
“Providing help to small businesses straight away is crucial to helping them get back on their feet. So many people in bushfire affected towns have put their heart and soul into their small businesses – and this assistance will be crucial to helping businesses and communities rebuild,” Mr Brumby said.
“The initial $5000 payment will help business owners with their immediate needs. From a new fax, to a new tool box, it helps people open their doors to local residents and the thousands of Victorians working on the massive rebuilding effort.”
The Commonwealth’s Coordinating Minister for the bushfire disaster Jenny Macklin said advisers would work on re-establishment plans with businesses and evaluate how much additional assistance those businesses required to get back up and running.
“The Commonwealth and Victorian governments are standing by small businesses damaged or destroyed by bushfires in their time of need,” Ms Macklin said.
“This assistance package will help individual businesses get back on their feet and help to stimulate local economies – so crucial in the rebuilding effort.”
The Treasurer of Victoria, John Lenders, said the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments also were making available low-interest loans for small businesses and farms damaged or destroyed by the bushfires through the state government’s Rural Finance Corporation.
“A stream of low cost finance will help businesses into the medium term and give them some hope for the future,” Mr Lenders said.
Under the subsidised loan arrangements, business can borrow up to $200,000 at 3.2 per cent interest.
The Victorian Minister for Regional and Rural Development Jacinta Allan said the government would help to provide business advice to the many business owners and managers in urgent need of help following the most devastating natural disaster in Australia’s history.
“Within a week, the first of 100 business advisers will contact local businesses providing free, on-the-ground advice on how to get each individual business up and operating again,” Ms Allan said.
She said the business advice and support counsellors were being made available through Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) and the Small Business Mentoring Service.
Further information on the assistance package including the eligibility criteria is available from the Business Victoria website or by phone on 13 22 15.