Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie commends the Federal Government on its stimulus package

Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie outside her electoral office in Victor Harbor.
Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie outside her electoral office in Victor Harbor.

Not in the living memory have Australians experienced such a health crisis and an economic crisis in one event.

Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie said the Federal Government's stimulus package will off-set many issues, but certainly not solve all of them.

"I commend the government. The stimulus package has been in put in place in a very short space of time," Ms Sharkie said.

"Ms Sharkie points the website, www.Treasury.gov.au/coronavirus, which is detailed and in a clear format, outlining assistance available for individuals, families, retirees and self-funded retirees and veterans.

The website also provides information on early access to limited superannuation, cash flow assistance for small businesses, temporary financial relief for distressed businesses, support for small-business investment and the increase and expansion of the instant tax write-off.

"I know many people are discovering they no longer have employment and this is crushing. We have seen the best in our communities during the bushfires and I know we can see the same camaraderie and generosity of spirit during this time," Ms Sharkie said.

At the 2016 Census Mayo had just under 11,000 businesses and 99.6 per cent were small businesses. The biggest sector at more than 18 per cent was the construction industry, most of them small traders,

This was followed by agriculture, forestry and fishing at just under 18 per cent, retail trade accounted for 6.4 per cent of businesses, 4.6 per cent were care and social assistance and 3.5 per cent were accommodation, food and hospitality services.

Ms Sharkie said the community could all do their bit to help those businesses during this time.

"While observing social distancing, you can still support your local butchers, bakers, fruit and veg shops and local supermarkets," she said.

"Many cafes and restaurants are adapting and offering home deliveries. "The National Farmers Federation has called for the food supply chain to be deemed an essential service and I have every confidence the Government will heed that common sense call so there is no reason to panic-buy food.

"There will be plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and supplies of meat and other goods. We just need to be looking to home deliveries and online services and we need to work together as a community to make sure our vulnerable are not overlooked."

Ms Sharkie said the stimulus package consider was comprehensive, but wanted more clarity about how it supported sole traders and more information about how it supported self-funded retirees.

"I believe that if you are a self-funded retiree with a low income health care card you should be eligible for government assistance. The package also provides a large amount of discretionary money for the Government to use as it sees fit.

"I would like to see some of that funding going to community support not just to business and individual households. The $1 million lump sum provided to bushfire-affected councils worked well because local governments know their communities and what they need on the ground in the short-term and long-term.

"I would like to see similar funding provided to local governments to respond to the coronavirus.

"Councils know who the vulnerable are in their communities and they already have the local knowledge, personnel and networks to deliver the necessary assistance. There is funding coming through via drought assistance and bushfire assistance and now coronavirus assistance.

"Going forward, I will be pushing for infrastructure spending in our community to also stimulate our economy. "If we pull together and look out for each other, we work for a positive future."

Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie pushes for government support to business and households during the coronavirus outbreak.

Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie pushes for government support to business and households during the coronavirus outbreak.

Many businesses are operating differently or are required to close their doors. It is Ms Sharkie's hope that, with the support package available, the closure of those doors will indeed be a temporary measure.

"We know that there is an extra $22 billion in the supply bills for government to spend as they deem necessary in the coming months. This is, I believe, a sensible measure. As we close borders to allow government to release more funds will not be an easy thing to arrange. Transparency on this spending,however, is important," Ms Sharkie said..

Ms Sharkie also calls for more funding for local government to cater for wellbeing programs.

"I'm deeply concerned that, without the community wellbeing support that will need to be delivered in different ways than it currently is, we will lose more people to mental health issues, exacerbated by loneliness and isolation, than potentially to coronavirus," Ms Sharkie said..

"We have been through so much-bushfires, on the back of drought. So I have a call to action for my Mayo community: We all need to do random acts of kindness. Make phone calls to the elderly. Join a group on Facebook.

"I'd like to say thank you to our healthcare workers, the doctors, the nurses, the teachers, the childcare workers, the supermarket workers, the truck drivers and the bus drivers. They are all working so hard in our community."

There are a range of supports for children and young people as we live through this traumatic time together. If feeling overwhelmed contact the following organisations for support:

"We are not yet through this time of crisis, but someday, the fear will be replaced again with happiness," Ms Sharkie said..

Kids Helpline 1800 551 800

Lifeline 13 11 14

Beyond Blue 1300 224 636

Headspace 1800 063 267

Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie at Port Elliot.

Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie at Port Elliot.

Support for Households

Income support for individuals: $550 per fortnight existing and new recipients of JobSeeker Payment, Youth Allowance Jobseeker, Parenting Payment, Farm Household Allowance and Special Benefit.

Payments to support households: $750 payments to social security, veteran and other income support recipients and eligible concession card holders.

Temporary early release of superannuation: access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21. Individuals will not need to pay tax on amounts released and the money they withdraw will not affect Centrelink or Veterans' Affairs payments.

Temporarily reducing superannuation minimum drawdown rates: 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 holding these products by reducing the need to sell investment assets to fund minimum drawdown requirements.

Reducing social security deeming rates: On 12 March, the Government announced a 0.5 percentage point reduction in both the upper and lower social security deeming rates. The Government will now reduce these rates by another 0.25 percentage points. As of 1 May 2020, the upper deeming rate will be 2.25 per cent and the lower deeming rate will be 0.25 per cent. The reductions reflect the low interest rate environment and its impact on the income from savings. The change will benefit around 900,000 income support recipients, including around 565,000 Age Pensioners who will, on average receive around $105 more of the Age Pension in the first full year the reduced rates apply.

Support for business

Boosting cash flow for employers: The Government is providing up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium-sized businesses, and not for-profits (NFPs) that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000. These payments will help businesses and NFPs with their cash flow so they can keep operating, pay their rent, electricity and other bills and retain staff. This measure will benefit around 690,000 businesses employing around 7.8 million people, and around 30,000 NFPs (including charities).

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, and providing temporary flexibility in the Corporations Act 2001 to provide temporary and targeted relief from provisions of the Act

Increasing the instant asset write-off: The Government is increasing the instant asset write-off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 and expanding access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million) until 30 June 2020. In 2017-18 there were more than 360,000 businesses that benefited from the current instant asset write-off, claiming deductions to the value of over $4 billion. This measure will support over 3.5 million businesses (over 99 per cent of businesses) employing more than 9.7 million employees.

Backing business investment: The Government is introducing 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 50 per cent of the cost of an eligible asset on installation, with existing depreciation rules applying to the balance of the asset's cost.

Supporting apprentices and trainees: The Government is supporting small business to retain their 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. Where a small business is not able to retain an apprentice, the subsidy will be available to a new employer that employs that apprentice. Employers will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee ($7,000 per quarter).

Support the regions affected: The Government will set aside $1 billion to support regions most significantly affected by the Coronavirus outbreak. These funds will be available to assist during the outbreak and the recovery. In addition, the Government is assisting our airline industry by providing relief from a number of taxes and Government charges estimated to total up to $715 million.

Quick and efficient access to credit for small business

Reserve bank: The RBA announced a term funding facility for the banking system. Banks will have access to at least $90 billion in funding at a fixed interest rate of 0.25 per cent. This will reinforce the benefits of a low cash rate by reducing funding costs for banks, which in turn will help reduce interest rates for borrowers. To encourage lending to businesses, the facility offers additional low-cost funding to banks if they expand their business lending, with particular incentives applying to new loans to SMEs. In addition, the RBA announced a further easing in monetary policy by reducing the cash rate to 0.25 per cent. It is also extending and complementing the interest rate cut by taking active steps to target a 0.25 per cent yield on 3-year Australian Government Securities.

Support for non-ADI and smaller ADI lenders in the securitisation market: The Government is providing the Australian Office of Financial Management (AOFM) with $15 billion to invest in structured finance markets used by smaller lenders, including non-Authorised Deposit-Taking Institutions (non-ADIs) and smaller Authorised Deposit-Taking Institutions (ADIs). This support will be provided by making direct investments in primary market securitisations by these lenders and in warehouse facilities.

Australian Prudential Regulation Authority - Ensuring banks are well placed to lend: The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) has announced temporary changes to its expectations regarding bank capital ratios. The changes will support banks' lending to customers, particularly if they wish to take advantage of the new facility being offered by the RBA.

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