Protecting and building Tasmania’s forestry industry
The Tasmanian majority Liberal Government is committed to protecting and building the forestry sector, recognising it is vital employer in many regional communities.
While we are all faced with the extraordinary challenge of COVID-19, as the Resources Minister, I am extremely proud of the way the forestry industry has proactively adapted to working in unprecedented circumstances.
Thanks to the dedication and commitment of businesses and employees, the forestry sector will be a key leader in the recovery and rebuilding phase for the Tasmanian economy, driving investment and providing thousands of jobs, many in regional areas.
I am encouraged by the findings of the Safety in the Tasmanian Forestry industry through COVID-19 survey, distributed by the COVID-19 Communications Working Group. This survey showcased the preparedness and flexibility of a workforce keen to get on with the job and work with new regulations to ensure the industry continues to operate throughout the pandemic.
Key findings from the survey include:
· 98% of respondents were confident to somewhat confident, their organisation could operate safely and efficiently through this pandemic.
· 86% found it easy or somewhat easy to implement social distancing and safe hygiene work practices – allowing business to continue.
· 82% are confident they can work safely through this period.
These results show that the forestry industry is a very good example of people and businesses making adjustments so they can continue to work safely during this time, in a way that limits contact with other people.
The Government also recognises that Tasmanian businesses and communities need extra support during this time, which is why we announced our second round support package, which sits alongside the Federal Government package.
Key stimulus measures applicable to the forestry industry
- ELECTRICITY – The Government is providing financial relief from energy costs for forestry businesses and individuals across the state.
- Many eligible small business customers will have their next quarterly energy bill waived.
- Energy prices will also be capped for 12 months for all regulated electricity customers, and Aurora is implementing a range of measures to help such as payment plans, freezing debt, bill relief, and waiving fees and charges.
- Aurora Energy will not disconnect any residential or eligible small business customers, without their agreement during this crisis.
- TASWATER – Business that receive the electricity waiver will also receive a 100 per cent waiver on the first Water & Sewage bill issued on or after 1 April 2020.
- Water prices will be frozen for 2020-21 for customers on regulated tariffs.
- GOVERNMENT FEES FROZEN – for households and businesses the Government will freeze all fees subject to the Government Fees Unit provisions in 2020-21, including:
- Land Tax Waiver for commercial property where the land tax is paid by the business owner that has been severely impacted. The Government will waive land tax for commercial properties for the coming financial year, 2020-21.
- Heavy vehicle registration and motor tax waivers. For Heavy Vehicles with GVM > 4.5t the Government will waive fees for registration and the Road component of motor tax for 12 months.
- Vehicle registration, businesses that have been severely impacted can apply to suspend registrations and then reactivate them when they reboot.
- Payroll Tax Waiver – three month waiver of payroll tax for all businesses up to $5 million as announced in the first Tasmanian Stimulus Package will be increased to a period of 12 months.
- $50 million SMALL BUSINESS INTEREST FREE LOAN FUND – $20 million Small Business Interest Free Loans was increased to $50 million and the eligibility for business loans was extended and available to all businesses that have been materially impacted by the outbreak with a turnover under $10 million per annum.
- $40 million SMALL BUSINESS GRANTS PROGRAM – $20 million emergency grants program and a $20 million larger grants program.
- SMALL BUSINESS CONTINUITY ADVICE – $750,000 to provide business continuity and accounting advice to eligible small businesses. This will ensure that eligible small businesses have access to authoritative advice on cash flow management and business options.
- RURAL FINANCIAL COUNSELLING SERVICE – $200,000 funding to Rural Business Tasmania for the extension of financial counselling and support services to provide helpful advice and guidance to eligible small and micro businesses and sole traders in rural and regional areas.
For specific information on business support grants and loans, please refer to the Business Tasmania website www.business.tas.gov.au or call them direct on 1800 440 026. Information on the Federally, you can access information at www.business.gov.au
Aurora and TasWater have also implemented assistance schemes and information is available on their websites.
I encourage everyone to look out for each other, be considerate and be kind. Stay at home unless you need to go out for work, essential supplies, exercise or you’re caring for someone. For more information, please contact my office.