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Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

One-Off $5000 Grant To Small Businesses And Farmers

Joint Media Release with:

  • Jacinta Allan MP, Victorian Minister for Regional and Rural Development

More Victorian farmers and small businesses impacted by the 2009 Victorian bushfires will be eligible for up-front $5000 bushfire recovery grants following a decision by the Rudd and Brumby governments to provide a special one-off payment in recognition of the unique circumstances being faced by businesses in the aftermath of the fires.

Bill Shorten said small businesses damaged or destroyed by the fires that missed out on recovery grants due to a requirement to earn 51 per cent of their income from that business may now be eligible for a special circumstances $5000 recovery grant.

“The Rudd Government is committed to supporting Victorian communities impacted by these horrific fires and is working with the Brumby Government to ensure assistance is targeted and gets to where it is needed,” Mr Shorten said.

“We recognise that these fires have created unprecedented challenges for small businesses and farmers and that’s why we are offering these special grants to make it easier for small business and farmers affected by these fires to get assistance.

“Today’s announcement builds on the $51 million package the Rudd and Brumby governments put in place in the immediate aftermath of the fires to support small businesses directly damaged or destroyed by the fires which made grants of up to $20,000 available in addition to the up-front $5000 grant.”

Victorian Regional and Rural Development Minister Jacinta Allan said the Rudd and Brumby governments had made a common-sense decision that recognised the unique circumstances of low-income farmers and small businesses affected by the February bushfires.

“We are committed to rebuilding communities destroyed and damaged by these fires and support for small business and farmers is a key part of the action we are taking to help communities recover and move forward,” Ms Allan said.

“This decision recognises that often farms often generate lower incomes and in recent years some farmers have also taken off-farm jobs which have made them ineligible under the pervious arrangements. It also recognises that those farmers may have been among the hardest hit by these fires.”

Under existing National Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) farmers and small business owners with damaged or destroyed property were required to earn 51 per cent of income from that business in order to qualify for the up-front $5000 recovery grant.

Under the new special circumstances arrangements, one-off grants will be available for small business owners who:

  • Earn less than $100,000 a year from other income sources, and
  • Have not already received other bushfire assistance available through the Australian and Victorian Governments or certain property related payments through the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund.

It is estimated that up to 200 farmers and small businesses may be eligible for the $5000 up-front grant under the new arrangements.

The $5000 Special Circumstances Bushfire Relief Grants are part of a $51 million package to assist small businesses which focuses on low-interest loans, business assistance grants and business re-start mentors that is being jointly funded by the Rudd and Brumby Governments.

In addition to the $5000 grant, up to $20,000 is available to businesses damaged or destroyed by the fires.

Application forms for the grants can be downloaded at www.ruralfinance.com.au or by phoning 1800 255 925.