PM looks to help small business survive COVID-19 crisis

30 March, 2020 by Andy Young

The coronavirus crisis that has gripped the world is already having an unprecedented impact on the global economy; locally businesses have closed or gone into hibernation with thousands of people now out of work.

In Australia, in a bid to combat the economic bombs hitting Australia’s economy, the National Cabinet is introducing a series of measures that will help businesses to survive. Speaking at a press conference in Canberra last night, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the Government was working on measures that would help keep people connected with businesses, and with their jobs until the crisis was over.

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“The waves of economic support that we put in place have had the feature of being scalable and the feature of actually working through existing channels wherever possible,” the Prime Minister said yesterday.

“Those packages are focused on the most immediate needs. The last package that we announced with the Treasurer was about broadening and strengthening the safety net for those who are going to be immediately impacted by the shock of losing their jobs. The next stage, which will be even bigger than anything you have so far seen, will go broader than that and ensure that we are working together with companies to keep people connected to companies.

“This is part of the hibernation strategy of ensuring that we keep people connected with businesses and with their jobs so that on the other side of this, Australia can bounce back stronger. This is going to be incredibly tough economically as well as from a health point of view.

“But where Australia can ensure we can bounce back better on the other side and more strongly is by following these strategies which enable businesses to re-emerge very, very quickly, with their employers, with their capital, with their equipment, with their shops, with all of the things which they can switch on again and get moving again. That is in the long-term interests of Australia.

“Certainly, this health crisis and economic crisis is a battle on two fronts and it is going to be waged in an unimaginable and unprecedented way over the next at least six months and potentially beyond that.

“But the battle we need to win is for the long-term as well and that is that the businesses are able to resurge and we can get Australia back to life as we know it again – as we have known it – as soon as possible once the virus passes.”

The Prime Minister also outlined plans for commercial tenancies, which includes a moratorium on evictions as a result of financial distress.

He said: “My message to tenants, particularly commercial tenants and commercial landlords, is a very straight-forward one.

“We need you to sit down, talk to each other and work this out about looking at the businesses which have been closed, businesses that may have had a significant reduction in their revenues and we need landlords and tenants to sit down and come up with arrangements that enable them to get through this crisis so on the other side, the landlord has a tenant, which is a business that can pay rent and the business is a business that can re-emerge on the other side of this and be able to go on and employ people on the other side of these arrangements. And we want the banks to help them achieve this outcome.

“We want people to sit down and work this out. We will be working on measures that will be encouraging you to do just that and to support you to do just that, but also to ensure that if you aren’t going to engage in that sort of cooperative activity between banks, between tenants and between landlords, then the sort of support that you might otherwise expect to receive, you will not receive.

“This is part of the hibernation approach where we want people bespoke, customised to their own circumstances to sit down and work these things out. There is no rulebook for this. We are in uncharted territory, but the goal should be shared. And that is a business that can reopen on the other side, not weighed down by excessive debts because of rental arrears.

“A landlord that has a tenant so they can continue into the future to be able to support the investments that they have made and banks that have clients, both the landlords and the businesses. The three of them working together to ensure those businesses can get through and be there on the other side.

“We’re asking businesses to adapt to what is not a usual set of circumstances. They must be sustainable because they will run for, we believe, at least six months and we want to be able to get everybody through. So we are seeking their support.”

TheShout has this story from Marianna Idas, the Principle at eLease Lawyers, who has compiled this helpful information for leaseholders who have been affected by COVID-19.