The federal Parliament has approved without objection a $84b in coronavirus economic survival stimulus overnight which will provide support for workers, students and businesses suffering from the ongoing fallout of the virus and help cushion the blow and build a bridge to recovery post-pandemic.
A number of measures aimed at easing conditions for small to medium sized enterprises, which comprise the bulk of the Australian printing industry, were included in the first round of measures announced last week and have again been targeted with the follow up package with more survival funding expected in the coming months.
Leading the charge for SME sustainability was the announcement that the federal government will effectively guarantee new loans to the value of $250,000. It will also pay up to $100,000 to small businesses to keep their staff employed although this will be delivered as a tax credit through the ATO and not as an immediate cash handout.
Print and Visual Communication CEO Andrew Macaulay says all printers should speak to their bank as soon as possible about the guaranteed loans as this initiative stood to provide immediate and real value for printers struggling as incoming work has in many cases literally ceased to come through the door.
“The benefit that we are getting most calls about is the government backing unsecured bank loans for SMEs up to $250,000 with a delayed repayment making this essentially bridging finance,” Macaulay told Sprinter.
“This is very important immediately and is of real value.”
Macaulay cautioned printers to have realistic expectations about the speed with which these loans will be approved as it will take some time to filter through the financial institution’s systems although all is expected to be up and running next month.
In making the announcement of the support, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the package is about helping businesses to continue to operate and employing staff during this crisis.
“We want to help businesses keep going as best they can and for as long as they can, or to pause instead of winding up their business. We want to ensure that when this crisis has passed Australian businesses can bounce back,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in a statement.
“Our focus is on cushioning the blow and providing hope to every Australian that we will get through this and come out the other side together.
“We know this will be temporary. That’s why all our actions are geared towards building a bridge, keeping more people in work, enhancing the safety net for those that aren’t and keeping businesses alive so they can get to the other side and stand up their workforce as quickly as possible.
“We know Australia’s more than 3 million small and medium businesses are the engine room of our economy. When they hurt, we all hurt.
“The next few months are going to be a difficult journey but we all have a role to play to adapt to the changes we’re facing, to cushion the impact of what is happening and to pull together so we can bounce back when we get to the other side.”
Macaulay commended the federal government for acting swiftly with clear and immediate support, but criticised state leaders for throwing confusion into the mix about a shutdown and who would be effected.
“Probably 50 per cent of the calls we have had this morning have started with ‘is our business covered by the shutdown’ or ‘are we required to shutdown’. We are having webinars for members on a regular basis because the information is changing rapidly,” he said.
Macaulay said the IR hotline is running hot and the PVCA Legal Services is also in strong demand.
“It is something that has been an underlying member service that hasn’t actually been used a great deal and all of a sudden we are now getting an enormous amount of requests for it.
“There is really three levels, there is the direct, private and confidential service thorugh the IR hotline, there is the broader informational confidence gathering process of the webinars and then there’s the legal services team.”
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