7 March 2014

New assistance available for small businesses in the Morwell area

Note

with the Hon Michael Keenan MP
Minister for Justice
and
the Hon Kim Wells MP
Victorian Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Bushfire Response

This media release discusses concessional loans being offered to eligible small businesses in Morwell that have been indirectly affected by a loss of income as a result of the Hazelwood Mine Fire.

Eligible small businesses in Morwell, indirectly affected by a loss of income as a result of the Hazelwood Mine Fire, will be able to apply for new $100,000 concessional loans under the jointly-funded Commonwealth and State Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA).

The Commonwealth Minister for Justice Michael Keenan and Minister for Small Business Bruce Billson, together with the Victorian Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Bushfire Response Kim Wells made the announcement today.

This new assistance meets a key election commitment from the Federal Coalition Government, and offers concessional loans of up to $100,000 to eligible small businesses, primary producers and not-for-profit organisations.

The loans can be used to fund essential working capital, including salaries and wages, paying creditors and rent, and for essential supplies.

“We know that following any natural disaster, farmers, businesses and other organisations experience hardship from a downturn in trade, and that puts pressure on their viability,” Mr Keenan said.

“This is the first time this new assistance has been activated and we put this measure in place because we recognise the crucial role that small businesses and primary producers play in their local community,” Mr Keenan said.

“Disasters are tough for small businesses.  Beyond the initial clean-up, small businesses often have to deal with interrupted supply chains, weaker trading conditions, mounting bills and a cash flow squeeze,” Mr Billson said.

“We understand that the recovery of small businesses is crucial to a community’s revival after a natural disaster and that enterprises can be pushed to the brink by the consequences of such an event.”

Mr Wells welcomed the Commonwealth initiative and said he was pleased the Victorian Coalition Government had been able to activate this new assistance to small businesses and primary producers affected as a result of the Hazelwood Mine Fire.

“This new assistance complements the existing concessional interest rate loans which have already been made available to small businesses that have sustained direct physical damage from the Hazelwood Mine Fire and forms a comprehensive recovery package for small businesses in Morwell,” Mr Wells said.

“I encourage small businesses and primary producers that have been affected to contact the Rural Finance Corporation to test their eligibility for the loans.

“The Commonwealth and Victorian Governments continue to work together to ensure that the appropriate level of assistance is provided to the Morwell community,” Mr Wells said.

To apply for a concessional interest rate loan small businesses, primary producers and not-for-profit organisations can contact the Rural Finance Corporation on 1800 260 425 or online at the Rural Finance website.

For further information on available recovery assistance, visit the Victorian Government’s Emergency Relief and Recovery Victoria website or the Australian Government’s Disaster Assist website.