Federal backbencher Warren Entsch has given a strong indication the government will offer businesses additional assistance following the end of JobKeeper in March.
Small business advocates and industry groups have been intensifying their calls for further government support this week as the end date for JobKeeper wage subsidies draws to a close.
New research out today shows the potentially devastating fallout in the tourism industry without further assistance, while Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has reportedly turned down a request from the hospitality industry for its own extension of JobKeeper, dubbed ‘HospoKeeper’.
However, in an interview with the ABC, Entsch said he is “absolutely confident” additional support measures will be announced by the government closer to March and indicated this will be done in a targeted manner.
Entsch represents the electorate of Leichhardt in far north Queensland, and said there will be many businesses in the popular tourism region that will need financial support “well in excess of March”.
“There are certainly a significant number of our tourism businesses, particularly in Cairns and Port Douglas and I suspect in Airlie Beach as well, that are going to require ongoing support, there’s no question about that,” he said.
Entsch said government support will need to be “very targeted”, to help support businesses in the region that are currently not opening because they can’t get staff to work.
He suggested support could be offered on a case-by-case basis.
“There are a lot of businesses in North Queensland that are doing exceptionally well, so we can’t have it just all North Queensland,” he said.
“We can’t have it for just all tourism. We’ve got to look specifically at businesses and how they’re travelling.”
SmartCompany asked Small Business Minister Michaelia Cash what forms of support are currently being considered for small businesses, but is yet to receive a response.
Peter Strong, chief executive of the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia, has previously recommended the government extend the JobKeeper program “in a different form, by targeting it”.
“We can collect data about which businesses and geographical areas are suffering the most,” he told SmartCompany earlier this month.
“That would be a much better use of the funds, to get to the businesses that need them.”