Media Release by The Hon Bill Shorten MP

$10 million business package to boost bushfire affected economies

Joint Media Release with:

  • John Brumby, Premier of Victoria

Victorian Premier John Brumby and Commonwealth Parliamentary Secretary for Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction Bill Shorten today unveiled a $10 million Commonwealth and Victorian government stimulus package to create new jobs and attract business investment in communities affected by the 2009 Victorian bushfires.

In Marysville, Mr Brumby said the fund would support capital costs involved in setting up new businesses and expanding new business to drive economic growth in bushfire affected regions.

Under the $10 million Business Investment Fund potential new businesses will be able to apply for grants of between $50,000 and $4 million with the same grants available to support the expansion of existing businesses.

The criteria for funding will include:

  • The level of economic benefit the project will bring;
  • The number of sustainable, new full-time equivalent jobs created;
  • The applicant’s access to skills, experience and resources ;
  • The project’s longer-term sustainability without need for ongoing Government support.

“We will continue to stand by communities as they rebuild their lives, homes and communities after the worst natural disaster in Australia’s history,” Mr Brumby said.

“In the immediate aftermath of Black Saturday our governments partnered to provide a $51 million assistance package for small businesses damaged or destroyed in the bushfires which made available low-interest loans and cash grants.

“One year on, some businesses have re-opened, over 1500 building permits have been issued, 6500 kilometres of fencing has been replaced, more than 400 kilometres of road restored, 3000 properties cleared and work is underway on rebuilding community facilities identified by local communities as priorities, backed by a $193 million recovery package.

“The fund is the next step in recovery. It is about encouraging large-scale and small-scale investment in areas like tourism, agriculture, food, forestry and energy investment to generate new jobs and grow economies and I encourage businesses to apply from today.”

Mr Brumby, Mr Shorten and Minister for Regional and Rural Development Jacinta Allan today visited the Marysville Central Shopping Centre in which eight businesses have opened in what was the former Marysville Motor Museum.

The Commonwealth and Victorian governments last year invested $2.3 million to purchase and fit out the museum to attract business activity back to the town by offering low-cost rent to tenants while they rebuild on permanent sites.

Mr Shorten said the grants were available for capital works projects of any size which boosted the economy and created jobs in a bushfire-affected region or local area.

“While a survey of businesses indicated that 95 per cent of them expect to continue or re-establish their business in the same place, many businesses have said they need some help to get their businesses back on track,” Mr Shorten said.

“The grants are available for capital works such as buildings for new industries, as well as tourism facilities which help drive economic recovery.”

“Rebuilding of bushfire hit towns is well underway. But we need to make sure residents of towns like Marysville can work locally, and for that we need to support local businesses.”

The Victorian Bushfire Business Investment Fund is part of the $193 million Rebuilding Together statewide plan for bushfire rebuilding and recovery, released by the Prime Minister and Premier in Flowerdale last year.

The Rebuilding Together plan sets out the rebuilding priorities which have been driven by local communities, to rebuild their essential town buildings and services, to generate business growth and investment and to rehabilitate key local attractions central to their future prosperity.

Applications are now open for the Victorian Bushfire Business Investment Fund and will close on April 16, with all funding to be allocated by June 30 this year.

The application forms are available on the Victorian Bushfire Reconstruction and Recovery VBBRA website, or by contacting VBBRA on 9092 5875.