TAS COVID - 19 - 27 March 2020
As a valued TAS member, NECA will be providing updates on COVID 19 each day for the foreseeable future. Please look out for this in your inbox and review in full.
We will endeavor to capture everything relevant to your business, but you will appreciate the situation is constantly evolving so please be patient.
Key developments in the last 24 hours
NEW SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC SUPPORT PACKAGE RELEASED
See in full here.
Businesses and Jobs
- Government fees will be frozen, waived and capped, including:
- Water and electricity bills will be waived for the first quarterly bill received after 1 April this year for small business customers on Tariffs 22, 94, 82 or 75, including small businesses on market contracts that could access these tariffs.
- Next financial year, electricity bills will be capped, and water bills will be frozen.
- Fees and charges subject to the Government Fee Units Act 1997 will be frozen as well.
- The Government will also waive fees and charges relating to the roads component of motor tax for heavy vehicles and vehicle registration where that business has been severely impacted because of measures taken to manage COVID-19.
- The payroll tax waivers for the hospitality, tourism and seafood sectors, and for Tasmanian businesses with payrolls less $5 million announced in the first Tasmanian Stimulus Package, will be extended to ensure that these industries pay no payroll tax for the entire 2019-20 year. This will include refunds and waivers to provide cash where it is required now.
- To rapidly retrain into emerging industries where necessary and to assist with job-matching in our rapidly changing labour market, the Government will also boost funding for Rapid Response Skills Initiative with an additional $6.3 million. Through this program, up to $3,000 will be available for individuals to gain skills or licences to help them into a new role. Businesses that have immediate job needs and opportunities available, will be able to access a job-ready pool, including to match people to our immediate priority skills needs, such as in health and retail industries.
- To ensure a steady supply of screw-driver and paint-brush ready projects, the Government has extended the Local Government Loan Scheme from $50 million to $150 million. This is in addition to bringing forward $50 million of maintenance in public buildings and assets, including public housing, announced last week.
- For small business, the Government will also:
- Increase the Small Business Interest Free Loan Scheme from $20 million to $50 million which is now available for businesses with turnovers less than $10 million.
- Provide a new $40 million Small Business Grants Program with $20 million set aside for an emergency grants program of $2500 cash payments.
- Provide a Digital Ready for Business Program, to assist businesses take their business online.
- Provide Business Continuity Advice with $750,000 in funding made available for businesses to seek cashflow and continuity advice, including a $50,000 grant to Small Business Council of Tasmania. A further $200,000 will be provided to the THA to provide business continuity and cashflow advice, and $200,000 will be provided to Rural Business Tasmania for the extension of its Rural Financial Counselling service.
Households and Individuals
- The Government will cap electricity prices and freeze water bills for the next financial year, at an estimated combined cost of $20 million. The Government also welcomes measures by Aurora Energy to assist both residential and small businesses during COVID-19.
- Freeze payment of the Community Fire levy next financial year.
- Waive school levies for this year at a cost of $13 million this calendar year. For those who have already paid their schools levies, the Government will arrange for these to be refunded.
- The Government will not increase rent for social housing tenants, and will not count federal Government emergency payments as income for the purposes of calculating rent contributions to leave more money in the hands of low income households, and in local economies at a cost of around $6.7 million.
- The Government will also increase funding to the Private Rental Incentive Scheme by up to 75 houses to increase the pool of available houses.
- The Government will also do its part, and will provide casual workers in the state sector with two weeks special leave if they are required to self-isolate.
SUPPORTING THE MENTAL HEALTH OF TASMANIANS
The Tasmanian Government’s support package include $4 million to support those experiencing mental health difficulties as a result of the challenges associated with coronavirus such as:
- $875,000 to establish a dedicated 1800 phone number to allow the Tasmanian community to call in and receive psychosocial support, and provide a reach out service for older Tasmanians and industries significantly impacted;
- $360,000 for increased capacity to provide mental health advice, support and referral for vulnerable Tasmanians living in rural areas;
- $450,000 supporting providers to use technology to keep vulnerable Tasmanians connected;
- $120,000 for targeted support for Tasmania’s migrant community regarding the COVID-19 pandemic;
- $600,000 for increased capacity to provide mental health support for Tasmanians living in supported accommodation; and
- $250,000 to adapt Tasmania’s pharmacotherapy program to the challenges of COVID-19.
CHANGES TO RESIDENTIAL TENANCIES
The Tasmanian majority Liberal Government is making changes to residential tenancies to protect tenants from the economic impacts of COVID-19. Details can be seen here: http://www.premier.tas.gov.au/releases/changes_to_residential_tenancies
NATIONAL PARKS AND RESERVES TO CLOSE AT MIDNIGHT
Tasmanian Parks and Wildlife Service will close all national parks and reserves to public recreational use from midnight on Thursday 26 March.
For more information here
New quarantine measures for returning travellers
The Prime Minister today announced all arrivals from abroad must self-isolate in hotels and other accommodation for two weeks before they are able to return to their home.
Key past announcements
Private airstrips closed to interstate aircrafts
For more information here
Supporting TasTAFE students
In line with other TAFEs nationally, TasTAFE will transition to online learning as much as possible and increase flexibility with fees to continue delivering vocational education and training to students.
For students who do not have access to digital environments, TasTAFE computers can be booked to allow students to continue their studies.
To support students during this difficult time, TasTAFE is also increasing flexibility towards fees, and implementing a range of updates to course payments to ensure students can continue to study throughout the Coronavirus period.
Measures include waiving the requirements for up-front deposits and extending payment terms to assist students financially in continuing their studies, and allow them to access ongoing education and training in a safe and supported learning environment.
For more information here
Tasmanian school term to end early
The Premier announced that schools in Tasmania will close schools four days early, from Friday next week.
From the 6th to the 9th of April schools will be student-free.
23 March 2020 – Hobart City Council approved a Community Support package. For further information see here
TAS STATE OF EMERGENCY
ESSENTIAL TRAVELLERS Information
All Non-Essential Travellers arriving in Tasmania will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Tasmania. If you meet the criteria for Essential Travellers status you may be exempted from the 14 day quarantine requirement but you must still comply with the conditions described in Quarantine conditions for Essential Travellers.
Places of social gathering and Social Distancing
Enhanced social distance measures are in place as of midnight Wednesday 25 March Worksites can and should remain open.
Federal advice is that schools should remain open but implementation of this varies by state.
The workplaces that cannot open are listed here
Ban on Australians travelling overseas
The Commonwealth Government has implemented a ‘do not travel’ ban on Australians travelling overseas under the Biosecurity Act 2015.
The Federal Government package includes the following measures:
- expansion to the eligibility of Jobseeker Payments to support sole traders and the self-employed,
- cash payment of up to $100,000 for the period March 2020 to September 2020, worth 100% of the tax those small and medium size businesses (SME) with a turnover less than $50 million are withholding from their employee’s salary and wages,
- coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme to support SMEs with a turnover less than $50 million. The Commonwealth will guarantee 50%, through the participating banks, of an eligible loan to small and medium enterprise customers that have been impacted by the coronavirus,
- cash flow support to employers, whereby the Government is providing up to $100,000 to eligible SMEs, and not-for-profits (NFPs) that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000,
- temporary relief for financially distressed businesses,
- immediate, quick and efficient credit for SMEs.
Business advice and support
NECA is mobilising resources to support members, in particular to access government support outlined above.
Relevant employment legislation – Fair Work has published these FAQs which providing guidance on managing employment issues arising from COVID 19.
NECA has updated its Stand Down advice. Please see the latest document here.
Webinars - NECA is hosting a series of webinars, which members can register for here.
Workplace health and safety advice and support
For information please log on into the NECA TKB. To access TKB, please click on the link www.necatkb.com
Once you have logged in click on the Safety STAR icon. Safety STAR is located on the NECA TKB website, you will need to log into NECA TKB.
Policy proposals/ media releases
NECA is developing a comprehensive set of policy proposals aimed at helping members manage the current crisis and rebuild in the future.
Payroll tax: NECA is calling for state governments to give businesses a ‘hand up, not a hand out’ by abolishing payroll tax for all small and medium businesses to help combat the continued economic turmoil caused by COVID-19.Link to media release
Contracting an essential service: Electrical contracting constitutes an essential service as set out in legislation, and NECA will be advocating accordingly so work can go ahead when it is safe to do so.
Support for apprentices: NECA is calling for the federal government to take a holistic approach to supporting apprentices in these challenging times. Link to media release
NECA has a dedicated webpage for all COVID 19 updates here.