A message from the small business coalface – little or no relief available

Brad Storey

While our politicians claim relief and compensation is easily and readily available to any who are in hardship due to the protracted and possibly now indefinite COVID-19 lockdown, many workers, small businesses and sole traders on the Central Coast are struggling to access the assistance.

The current lockdown has been in place for seven weeks and seems likely to continue beyond the projected August 28 cut-off.

Brad Storey, former ABC Central Coast staffer and owner of the small business Quiz Trivia, operates as a sole trader.

“I have successfully run my trivia business on the Coast for 15 years” Storey said.

“In 2020 my trivia business was shut down as pubs and clubs were closed.

“I went on to JobKeeper and although it was inadequate compared to my usual income, at least it was regular and supported us through that period.”

Things looked up for Storey when late last year most of his trivia venues were back up and running, but when the latest lockdown hit on June 26 all his venues closed once again, along with corporate, fund raising and charity events booked for the coming months.

With no JobKeeper this time around, he has been forced to try and access what government support there is.

“When the Federal Government worker relief began, you were ineligible for three weeks if you had more than $10,000 in savings; why was that ruling made?” he said.

“So for the first three weeks of lockdown I was receiving no government assistance at all and was forced, like many, to live off my savings, some of which came from my own superannuation which I accessed last year.

“That ruling was later changed but too late for people like me.

“I have now received only four payments in nearly seven weeks of lockdown; $500, then $600, $600 and now $750 per week.

“What I am receiving from the Federal Government is supposed to pay for food, car rego, mortgage, insurance, gas, electricity, water, rates, pets, assisting elderly relatives and all the other day to day costs.

“These are just the hard costs of running a household.

“My ‘business’ costs however are different.

“As a sole trader, I was not allowed to request compensation from the State Government until July 19 and as at August 12, nothing has been forthcoming.

“My business has been totally shut down but the expenses continue, such as monthly software hosting/support fees and with the new financial year, digital editing and computer upgrades for the technical side of my business and office rent.

“In addition, there are superannuation payments for myself as a sole trader, while the tax office wants my last quarter BAS payment.

“These are now all overdue.

“After nearly seven weeks, I have not seen a single solitary cent from the State Government Business Support Package, despite constant claims by the Premier and government ministers that rivers of gold are flowing, all you have to do is apply.”

Storey said he has heard of many others in a similar position being put on hold for up to four hours when calling to check the progress of their State Government payments … only to have the phone line drop out.

“My business has been shut down 100 per cent and I hope to receive as much money as the government says I am entitled to, but the question is when?” he said.

“In seven weeks I have had not a cent from the State Government which has shut me down.

“The government is responsible for this shutdown because it did not adequately direct or legislate strongly enough around the transport of international flight crews, rather hoping people would do the ‘right’ thing’ and that is where all of this started.”

With an end date for the lockdown up in the air, Storey said many will continue to struggle.

“Whenever the ‘lockdown’ does end, watch how fast the compensation is removed,” he said.

“Soft restrictions will be put in place for weeks and possibly months so businesses like mine will still not be able to work to capacity.

“The damage done to so many businesses will take weeks and months for them to re-build, if they are the lucky ones who survive in the first place.”

Storey is also scathing of those who claim the country cannot afford to pay compensation.

“It is a false economy not to support your citizens; if you look after these small businesses the money goes back into economy and if you don’t support them it has a direct impact on the bottom line of those businesses which are still able to operate,” he said.

“A government’s first and foremost duty is to care for its citizens.

“We are the 12th or 13th wealthiest country on earth.

“The Federal Treasurer has been crowing about how well the national accounts have so spectacularly bounced back since last year, the stock market is literally in record territory, China is paying huge prices for our dirt and I have paid business and personal taxes all my life.

“And now when we need timely support to weather this latest lockdown, a lockdown brought about by government incompetence and complacency, this wealthy nation’s mean-spirited politicians dilly-dally, scrimp and whine about how much it is going to cost to save people’s lives and livelihoods; politicians who, throughout the lockdowns, have themselves not lost a single cent of their incomes.”

Terry Collins

8 Comments on "A message from the small business coalface – little or no relief available"

  1. It’s not just Business Owners that are suffering. We are a low income family, my partner was laid off only 2 weeks prior to the central coast being locked down. Their is no support available and we are doing it tough.
    But Gladys did say that nobody should feel stressed as support was there. I’m still trying to find that support.

  2. I have received nothing from government for 08 weeks applied jobseekers the rejected my claim even no money in bank and I had my last income of $1290.00 stolen off me by former company clean my crib and movers. They are a FRAUD. Like This latest lockdown government should stay out of the way all they done is screw people lives up on bothsides

  3. We are a small mechanical business in the Central Coast, not 1cent from the government so far, and getting less & less work

  4. Yes maybe instead of tracking covid numbers.Tracking how many small businesses have had to close due to government not following through on their promises. Poor protocol is the reason the delta strain was let loose in our country and we are all suffering. Best of luck to my fellow small business owners.

  5. Screwed poor | August 16, 2021 at 12:57 pm |

    Cant get assist as sole trader I earn less then 30k
    WTF is wrong with these so called leaders.

  6. Over this crap | August 16, 2021 at 9:56 pm |

    The Government makes promises yet as a small business owner and not receiving anything we have been put in a horrible position like most other small business the Government didn’t put a hold on anything so people still contact you for payment and yet you don’t they cancel the Government has no idea what’s happening and expecting people to wait for payment is a joke. I’m
    Sure they aren’t waiting to be paid.

  7. Tragic situation for these people. it’s time to change governments and remember who got Australia through the GFC. It’s never been true that Australians are better off under a Liberal Govt. We are all seeing that now! We can’t eat catchy logos.

  8. These Conservative govts both Federal and State really only exist to support big corporates , big business and the big end of town ie record profits for Harvey Norman shareholders funded by jobkeeper!More interested in getting re elected than good governance . The gap between the haves and have nots will continue to widen with this mob in power

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