COVID-19 Business Support
- 03 April 2020
Our thoughts are with all of our NT operators during this difficult time. The most important thing we can do right now, is to assist our industry to access the range of business support packages made available for them. We are in the process of calling each and every tourism operator in the NT making sure you know what support is available to you.
We are working hard in coordination with Tourism Australia, the domestic travel trade, our interstate media and international trade partners to ensure the Territory is ready for the recovery phase, by continuing to build demand and then be back in market driving crucial bookings as soon as we're able.
The Northern Territory Government is committed to save jobs and reduce the economic impacts wherever possible.
To date the Territory Government has invested nearly $120 million in response to the deep economic impacts of the Coronavirus crisis through the Jobs Rescue & Recovery Plan, Small Business Survival Fund and Worker and Wellbeing Plan, in addition to the already announced $2million Immediate Tourism Resilience Plan.
NT Government is also supporting Territory workers to connect with local businesses and find new employment through the new online portal Territory Jobs Hub.
The Australian Government has announced a $130 billion JobKeeper Payment to help keep more Australians in jobs and support businesses affected by the significant economic impact caused by Coronavirus. The payment will ensure eligible employers remain connected to their workforce and will help businesses restart quickly when the crisis is over.
If your business has been significantly impacted by COVID-19 you will be able to access a wages subsidy to continue paying your employees. Through the program businesses will be able to claim a fortnightly payment of $1,500 per eligible employee from 30 March 2020, for a maximum of six months.
Download the Factsheet for further information.
The Australian Government provides financial support to people that have lost their job and/or are out of work through its JobSeeker Payment program. Financial help is able for people between 22 and pension age that are unemployed and looking for work, or doing approved activities to find a job. It is also available for people that are sick or injured and unable to do your usual work for a short time.
The income support payment Youth Allowance for job seekers is also available for people 21 or younger that are looking for work, or temporarily unable to work.
Provides up to $100,000 back to small and medium-sized businesses, with a minimum payment of $20,000 for eligible businesses. The payments will provide cash flow support to businesses with a turnover of less than $50 million and not-for-profit entities that employ staff. The payment will be tax free.
This program initially provided up to $25,000 to business, with a minimum payment of $2,000 for eligible businesses. Small and medium sized business entities with aggregated annual turnover under $50 million and that employ workers are eligible.
The Australian Banking Association has announced affected small businesses wll be able to access a six-month deferral of all loan repayments. Small businesses are encouraged to contact their banks to apply.
An exemption from responsible lending obligations is available to lenders providing credit to existing small business customers. The Reserve Bank of Australia package is providing banks access to money at .25% fixed interest.
There is a temporary increase to the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive. Temporary flexibility in the Corporations Act 2001 will provide targeted relief for companies from provisions of the Act to deal with unforeseen events that arise as a result of the Coronavirus crisis.
This includes temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent. A temporary increase in the threshold has also been introduced for a creditor to initiate bankruptcy proceedings, an increase in the time period for debtors to respond to a bankruptcy notice, and extending the period of protection a debtor receives after making a declaration of intention to present a debtor’s petition
The Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) scheme is a key Australian Government financial assistance program for aspiring and current exporters. Administered by Austrade, the scheme supports a wide range of industries.
Funding for the scheme will increase by $49.8 million in the 2019-20 financial year, allowing exporters and tourism businesses to get additional reimbursements for costs incurred in marketing their products and services around the world. On 3 October 2019, a review of the Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) scheme and Australian Government financial assistance to SME exporters was also announced.
Australian banks have hardship teams ready to help. There are practical ways your bank can help and the type of assistance will depend on individual circumstances. Assistance can include:
- A deferral of scheduled loan repayments
- Waiving fees and charges
- Interest free periods or no interest rate increases
- Debt consolidation to help make repayments more manageable.
The Australian Government has enacted legislation to support its economic response to COVID-19, and help the economy withstand and recover from the economic impact.
Monthly GST credits
- It is worth considering if you should temporarily change your reporting cycle. If you report quarterly and you are due for a GST refund, moving to monthly reporting means you can get quicker access to GST refunds you are entitled to.
- If you are a pay as you go (PAYG) instalments payer, you can vary your PAYG instalments on your activity statement. You can do this by lodging a revised activity statement before your instalment is due and before you lodge your tax return for the year. Taxpayers who vary their PAYG instalment rate or amount can also claim a refund for any instalments made during the 2019–20 financial year.
Remitting interest payments
The ATO will consider remitting interest and penalties incurred after 23 January 2020.
Low increase payment plans
- If you need help to pay your existing and ongoing tax liabilities, contact the ATO to discuss entering a low interest payment plan.
- If your business is experiencing financial difficulties because of COVID-19, operators can phone the ATO Emergency Support Infoline on 1800 806 218.
Eligible individuals are able to apply online through myGov to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation before 1 July 2020. They will also be able to access up to a further $10,000 from 1 July 2020 for approximately three months (exact timing will depend on the passage of the relevant legislation).
To apply for early release you must satisfy any one or more of the following requirements:
- you're unemployed
- you're eligible to receive a job seeker payment, youth allowance for jobseekers, parenting payment (which includes the single and partnered payments), special benefit or farm household allowance
- you were made redundant on or after 1 January 2020
- your working hours were reduced by 20% or more on or after 1 January 2020
- if you're a sole trader, your business was suspended or there was a reduction in your turnover of 20% or more on or after 1 January 2020
Having an appropriate plan in place will help your business before, during and after an emergency situation. A business continuity plan documents the steps you need to take to keep your business running and your cash flow coming in.
Addressing business survival, business revival and business growth, Tourism NT together with the Department of Trade, Business and Innovation and the Business Enterprise Centre NT (BECNT) have extended the Tourism Fast Track intensive business support program.
Targeted at tourism businesses that are suffering financial hardship, this specifically tailored support program is intensive in nature, focusing on:
- increasing the number of visitors (customers)
- increasing the average visitor spend
- reviewing prices, or;
- lowering business expenditure
The program involves a minimum of five one-on-one meetings with an experienced tourism sector business consultant over a three month time period. Meetings will need to be completed by 31 December 2020, noting the immediacy of the current challenges facing the industry.
Tourism NT Marketing
The Department of Tourism, Sport and Culture is continuing to work with the NT Department of Trade, Business and Innovation to draw together the range of business support initiatives to assist the tourism and related industries.
The team is also contacting trade partners to ensure they are informed and understand the new measures in place regarding restricted NT border access and quarantine requirements.
The Northern Territory Government are committed to ensure marketing opportunities remain realistic and viable. With the current NT border restrictions in place to protect the health and wellbeing of Territorians, Tourism NT will be suspending all domestic and international marketing campaigns that have not yet been launched into market and will focus on planning an immediate return to market as soon as it is responsible to do so.
Tourism NT will keep a presence in market through social media posts to keep the Territory top of mind, continue a high level of engagement and ensure spirits are high for when conditions improve.
Access to 4 hours of free and independent advice is available to directly help businesses. Territory businesses can contact either the Business Enterprise Centre NT or the Chamber of Commerce NT to access independent and expert advice on:
- Health and wellbeing
- Business strategy and managing through tough times
- Finance, accounting, bookkeeping and insurance
- Legal matters including intellectual property and contracts
- Web, e-commerce, social media and marketing
Small businesses will be able to receive free advice from expert advisers free of charge, even if you are not a member. A guide for employers is also available.
Call the Chamber of Commerce NT Hotline on 8982 8188 or the Business Enterprise Centre on 8923 6133.
Further information and resources to help you manage your small business can be found here.
Mental Health Support
For a list of what mental health support is available visit here.
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All Industry Update e-newsletters regarding COVID-19 can be viewed here.