Latest COVID-19 economic support packages for business
Last updated Tuesday 14 April
The Energy Efficiency Council is monitoring the economic support packages for business announced by state and federal governments. As new packages are announced we will keep this page up to date.
Commonwealth economic support
State and territory economic support
National Cabinet updates
On Monday 30 March 2020 the government released a further package; $130B JobKeeper Payment intended to keep Australians in a job. Further information and examples are available here. This JobKeeper FAQ document, last updated Sunday 5 April 2020, is also very useful. The JobKeeper Payment is intended to provide further assistance to businesses through the COVID-19 crisis by supporting employers and employees to maintain their employment connection through six months of subsidised wages. By maintaining the employment connection, the government intends that businesses will be better positioned to get back up and running quickly once the crisis passes.
- The JobKeeper Payment is open to eligible employers for each eligible employee that is retained or continues to be engaged by the employer;
- An eligible employer is;
- An employer that has annual turnover of less than $1 billion;
- Has self-assessed that they have experienced a reduction in revenue of at least 30% since 1 March 2020, relative to a comparable period a year ago of at least one month;
- One who was in an eligible employment relationship with the eligible employee at 1 March 2020, and each employee is currently engaged;
- A business structured through a company, partnership, trust, sole trader, self employed individual (with or without employees), or an NFP (including charities);
- An employer that has annual turnover of more than $1 billion will be required to demonstrate a reduction in revenue of 50% or more; and
- Businesses subject to the Major Bank Levy are not eligible.
- An eligible employee includes;
- Full and part-time employees employed at 1 March 2020 and currently engaged with the employer;
- A casual employee who has been employed with the same employer for over 12 months back from 1 March 2020;
- Employees who were stood down, rehired or had their hours reduced from 1 March 2020;
- Self-employed individuals;
- Australian citizens, a holder of a permanent visa, a Protected Special Category Visa Holder, a non-protected Special Category Visa Holder who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 years or more, or a Special Category (Subclass 444) Visa Holder; and
- Employees not in receipt of a JobKeeper Payment from another employer.
- An eligible employer is;
- Employers will receive a JobKeeper Payment of $1,500 per employee per fortnight for six months;
- The JobKeeper Payment is considered income to the employee;
- If the employee ordinarily receives $1,500 or more in income per fortnight before tax, they will continue to receive their regular income according to their usual working arrangements;
- If the employee ordinarily receives less than $1,500 in income per fortnight before tax, the employer must pay the employee, at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight, before tax;
- If an employee was stood down since 1 March 2020, the employer must pay their employee a minimum of $1,500 per fortnight, before tax;
- If an employee was employed on 1 March 2020, subsequently ceased employment with the employer and then has been re-engaged by the same eligible employer, the employee will receive, at a minimum, $1,500 per fortnight, before tax.
- Employers may top-up wages in addition to this amount.
- It is up to employer to determine if they will pay superannuation on any additional wage paid because of the JobKeeper Payment. There is no further information on superannuation as applicable to the JobKeeper Payment at this time;
- The JobKeeper Payment will be administered through the Single Touch Payroll System, which all businesses with employees should already be using. Self-employed individuals will need to provide a monthly update to the ATO to declare their continued elibility for payments;
- Payments will be made to the employer monthly in arrears by the ATO;
- The Jobseeker Payment commences 30 March 2020; however, employers can begin to pay it to their employees immediately and businesses will be reimbursed in early May 2020; and
- Businesses with and without employees should register their interest in the JobKeeper Payment here.
On Sunday 29 March the Australian Government released the Coronavirus Australia app - found in the Apple Store or Google Play - and a designated WhatsApp channel to give you access to the latest official updates.
Additionally, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced yesterday that Australian states and territories will put a six-month moratorium on evictions for both residential and commercial tenants during the coronavirus pandemic.
On Sunday 22 March the Australian Government announced a second set of economic support measures that substantially expands on the initial $17.6 billion stimulus package announced on Thursday 12 March.
The updated package, including the previously announced measures, includes:
We encourage Council members and partners to review this document to see if they are eligible for either of the following two payments:
- The Government has quadruped payments to small and medium businesses and not-for-profits that have an annual turnover under $50 million. Businesses are now eligible for payments of up to 100 per cent of PAYG withheld, up to a maximum of $50,000. Businesses with a turnover under $50 million that do not withhold tax are still eligible for a minimum payment of $10,000. Additional payments will also be provided over the period from July – October 2020, providing a further payment of $10,000 to $50,000; and
- Payments of up to 50 per cent of apprentices’ or trainees’ wages for nine months, up to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee, which may also provide opportunities for members and partners.
The government is providing incentives for businesses to invest in equipment and other assets:
- $3.2 billion to provide businesses with a 15-month investment incentive by accelerating depreciation deductions. Businesses with aggregated turnover below $500 million can deduct 50 per cent of the cost of certain depreciable assets, with existing depreciation applying to the balance of the asset’s cost; and
- $700 million to increase the instant asset write-off from $30,000 to $150,000. This will allow businesses with an annual turnover of up to $500 million to instantly write of equipment worth up to $150,000, including vehicles, tools and office equipment like photocopiers and printers.
This could potentially be used to boost the energy efficiency and productivity of businesses’ operations, and might be a significant opportunity for members.
The Council is exploring a communications campaign to alert businesses about the opportunity to improve their productivity by using this program to upgrade equipment; we will keep you informed.
The Government is providing temporary relief for financially distressed businesses, including increasing the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company.
The Government is providing assistance for severely affected regions and sectors. The details of the $1 billion in regional assistance measures have yet to be announced. In terms of sectors, the government has announced $715 million in support for the aviation sector.
The government is working with the Reserve Bank of Australia and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority to ensure the flow of credit, including credit to SMEs. More information can be found here.
The Government has significantly increased its support for households, with a package that includes:
- Two cash payment of $750 for welfare recipients, including pensioners, carers, veterans and jobseekers;
- An additional Coronavirus supplement of $550 a fortnight for individuals and households that are recipients of several payments; and
- Allowing individuals to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019-20 and a further $10,000 in 2020-21.
In addition to the Commonwealth stimulus package, several states have announced or are developing their own health and assistance packages.
On Saturday 21 March the Victorian Government announced a $1.7 billion stimulus package that was designed to complement the Australian Government’s package. The Victorian package includes:
- Full payroll tax refunds for the 2019-20 financial year to small and medium-sized businesses with payroll of less than $3 million. These payments are refunds, not loans. Payments will start being made from next week and eligible businesses can save up to $113,975 per year, with the average business saving $23,000. These businesses will also be able to defer payroll tax for the first three months of the 2020/21 financial year until 1 January 2021.
- Shortened standard payment terms to five days, which means that the Victorian Government will pay all outstanding supplier invoices within five business days.
- $500 million fund to support particularly affected sectors, including hospitality, tourism, accommodation, arts and entertainment, and retail.
- The Working for Victoria Fund, which provides $500 million to help workers find jobs including cleaning public infrastructure or delivering food.
- Several targeted business support measures, including rent-relief for commercial tenants in government buildings, and waiving liquor licensing fees for 2020.
On Wednesday 13 May the Department of Land, Water, Environment and Planning (DELWP) extended the temporary suspension announced on Thursday 9 April, affecting the following activities under the Victorian Energy Upgrades (VEU) program until further notice:
- incandescent lighting upgrades (Part 21 under the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target Regulations 2018);
- low-flow shower roses (Part 17);
- weather sealing (Part 15); and
- in-home display units (Part 30).
The suspension applies to activities undertaken on both residential and non-residential premises.
On Wednesday 8 April the Tasmanian Government announced that the Small Business Emergency Grants program has been extended, and a Small Business Hardship Grant program has been introduced. $2,500 grants are available under the Emergency Grants program for small businesses (under 25 FTE employees) under severe hardship; under the Hardship grant, $20 million has been allocated to provide one-off payments of $15,000 to highly impacted businesses.
The package includes:
- Government fees will be frozen, waived or capped, including;
- Waiver of first quarterly water and electricity bills received after 1 April 2020 for small businesses on Tariffs 22, 94, 82 or 75, including small businesses on market contracts that could access these tariffs;
- Caps on electricity bills and freeze on water bills and some government fees and charges in FY2020.
- Waiver of payroll tax for the hospitality, tourism and seafood sectors, and Tasmanian businesses with payrolls less than $5M, and the extension of the measures announced in the Support and Stimulus Package to ensure these industries pay no payroll tax for the entire FY2019-20, including the provision of refunds and waivers as appropriate;
- $6.3M for the Rapid Response Skills initiative, which will provide up to $3K for an individual to gain skills or licences to help them into a new role.
- Extension of the Local Government Loan Scheme from $50M to $150M to ensure a supply of shovel-ready projects. This is in addition to the bringing forward of $50M for public housing maintenance announced in the last package;
- Confirmed grants of up to $20K to partly cover the costs of energy audits and capital upgrades to help dairy farmers with improving their energy efficiency;
- For small businesses;
- $50M for the Small Business Interest Free Loan Scheme for businesses with turnovers under $10M.
- $40M for new Small Business Grants Program, with $20 million set aside for an emergency grants program of $2500 cash payments;
- $750K in funding for businesses to seek cashflow and continuity advice, including grants to Small Business Council of Tasmania, THA and Rural Business Tasmania.
- COVID-19 Business Tasmania support, grants and loans
On Tuesday 17 March the Tasmanian Government announced a $420M stimulus package, which includes:
- $20M for the provision of interest free loans to businesses in the hospitality, tourism, seafood and exports sectors;
- Waiver of payroll tax for March – June 2020 for hospitality, tourism and seafood industry businesses;
- Other small to medium businesses with an annual payroll of up to $5M in Australian wages will be able to apply, based on the immediate impact of the virus on their businesses, to have their payroll tax payments waived from 31 March to 30 June 2020;
- $50M in interest free loans over three years will be made available to encourage local governments to invest and employ more Tasmanians to upgrade, renovate and to do necessary maintenance to improve tourism assets so that when the visitors come back the state is ready; and
- Immediately bringing forward $50 million for the maintenance of public buildings over the next 12 months.
- Grants of up to $20K to partly cover the costs of energy audits and capital upgrades to help dairy farmers with improving their energy efficiency.
On Tuesday 7 April the South Australian Government announced that better protections for landlords and private tenants have been developed, including restricting evictions in cases of extreme financial hardship for both commercial and private residential tenants and ensuring JobKeeper payments are exempt from payroll tax.
On Thursday 26 March the South Australian Government announced a second $650 million support package for households, businesses and community groups. Business support includes:
- A six-month waiver for all businesses with an annual payroll (grouped) up to $4 million, meaning eligible businesses won’t have to pay any payroll tax from April to September. In addition, employers with grouped annual wages above $4 million able to defer payroll tax payments for 6 months on demonstration of significant impacts on cash flow of coronavirus; and
- A $300 million Business and Jobs Support Fund to support individual businesses and industry sectors directly affected by coronavirus.
This package builds on South Australia's initial $350 million stimulus package, which focuses on construction, including $15 million investment in upgrades at country hospitals, bringing total stimulus measures in the state to $1 billion.
On Friday 3 April the NSW Government announced the availability of grants of up to $10,000 for small businesses struggling to cope with shutdowns related to COVID-19. These grants are part of the $750 million Small Business Support Fund. Grants are available for businesses with 1-19 employees and turnover of over $75,000 and can be used for utilities, overheads, and legal advice. Applications close 1 June 2020.
On Friday 27 March the NSW Government released a second stage stimulus package that includes a $1 billion fund for jobs and billions in tax relief for businesses, and help for the most vulnerable:
- $1B Working for NSW fund to sustain business, create new jobs and retrain employees. Includes $750M in new funding and $250M for cleaning services announced in the first package.
- Deferral of payroll tax for businesses with payrolls over $10M for six months. The first package included a three-month waiver of payroll tax for businesses with payrolls of less than $10M; these businesses now also receive a three month deferral of payroll tax, after the three month waiver.
- Deferral of gaming tax for clubs, pubs and hotels, and lotteries tax for six months, conditional on these funds being used to retain staff.
- Deferral of parking space levy for six months.
- Deferral of rents for six months for commercial tenants with less than 20 employees in all Government-owned properties.
- $34M funding boost to prevent homelessness.
- $30M funding to boost the Energy Accounts Payments Assistance Scheme.
- $10M to support charities and $6M additional funding for Lifeline in NSW.
On Tuesday 17 March the NSW Government released a $2.3 billion stimulus package that includes:
- $700 million extra funding for NSW Health;
- $450 million for the waiver of payroll tax for businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million for three months (the rest of 2019-20);
- $56 million to bring forward the next round of payroll tax cuts by raising the threshold limit to $1 million in 2020-21;
- $80 million to waive a range of fees and charges for small businesses including bars, cafes, restaurants and trades;
- $250 million to employ additional cleaners of public infrastructure such as transport assets, schools and other public buildings;
- Over $250 million to bring forward maintenance on public assets including social housing and crown land fencing; and
- $500 million to bring forward capital works and maintenance.
On Thursday 2 April the ACT Government announced additional economic supports for local businesses. Rent relief will be available for local business tenants who have had operations restricted, with a tiered category system to ensure businesses most in need are able to access enhanced support. Further supports include rental relief to tenants of government-owned properties and payroll tax waiver to continue for six months for affected businesses.
On Friday 20 March the ACT Government announced $137 million in measures as a “first phase” of a package to protect jobs.
The package includes the following business support measures:
- Expediting payment of bills to small and medium businesses;
- $750 rebate for small business owners to help with power bills;
- Six-month waiver on payroll tax for hospitality, creative arts and entertainment industries, and waiving fees for food business registration and liquor licencing (excluding off-license);
- A rebate on the fixed charge for 2019-20 on commercial rates for properties with an AUV below $2 million;
- Funds for clubs to keep staff employed on the clubs award rate;
- A new $500,000 round of grants funding for the arts sector; and
- $7 million for non-government organisation partners.
On Tuesday 31 March, the Government of Western Australia announced a $1B COVID-19 economic and health relief package, including $502M in new initiatives for small businesses, and builds on the $25M in rent relief for businesses announced 30 March.
The packages include:
- Waiver of rental payments for six months for small businesses and NFPs in government-owned buildings, effective immediately. This builds on the previously announced moratorium on the termination of leases for the non-payment of rent for six months for commercial tenancies suffering financial distress;
- A one-off $2,500 credit available for Synergy and Horizon Power customers that consume less than 50 megawatt hours (MWh) per annum. The credit is available to current customers at 31 March 2020 and will be allocated to bills from 1 May 2020. In addition, no small businesses facing financial difficulty will face power or water disconnections;
- Waiver of payroll tax between 1 March and 30 June 2020 for businesses with Australia-wide annual wages of less than $7.5M in FY2019-20. This waiver replaces the previously announced payroll tax deferral;
- $100.4M in waivers for a wide range of licence fees for small and medium‑sized businesses for the next 12 months. This includes licences for building services, plumbers and electricians; and
- Businesses impacted by COVID-19 may apply for interest-free payment arrangements and the waiver of late payment penalties for a range of state-based taxes and duties.
Relief for households experiencing financial hardship has been increased, including a COVID-19 additional payment, which is an extension of the Energy Assistance Payment, no disconnections for power and water, and additional COVID-19 hardship support for Keystart customers.
On Monday 16 March the Government of Western Australian announced a $607M stimulus package, which will have significant impacts on the energy sector.
The Western Australian package includes:
- $402M freeze on household fees and charges until at least 1 July 2021, including electricity, water, motor vehicle charges, emergency services levy and public transport fares;
- Energy assistance payment doubled from $300 to $600 for vulnerable Western Australians;
- $114M for small business, including a one-off grant of $17,500; and
- Some businesses can defer payroll tax payments until 21 July 2020.
On Monday 23 March the Northern Territory Government expanded the initial $65M stimulus package from 19 March into a $120M Jobs Rescue and Recovery plan.
In addition to the initiatives listed below, the NT Government have added a $50M ‘Small Business Survival Fund’ to help NT small businesses survive the physical distancing requirements in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The fund has three goals:
- Help local businesses survive through the partial or full shut-down period. For example, support in meeting unavoidable fixed costs;
- Help local businesses adjust and adapt to take advantage of the new consumer environment. For example, expanding online services, takeaway and delivery; and
- Prepare local businesses to take advantage of the rebounding economy when the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis is over. For example, upgrading premises or upskilling staff.
As highlighted when the grants program opened on Friday 27 March, the $50 million ‘Small Business Survival Fund’ will provide grants to businesses to remain viable even if they have to shut. Eligible businesses can apply for:
- An immediate survival payment of $2-50K to help offset immediate cost pressures; and
- A rapid adaptation payment of $1-5K to help businesses make the necessary changes to adapt to the new operating environment.
The NT Government also announced a Territory Jobs Hub, which will connect local businesses with impacted workers to help them find new employment.
On Wednesday 18 March the Northern Territory Government announced a $65 million package to support jobs, which potentially could be used to drive energy efficiency improvements. The package consists of three main components:
- A $20 million ‘Business Improvement Scheme’ that provides all eligible businesses with grants to upgrade their premises, including new equipment and shop fit outs. Business owners can access a $10,000 grant, with a further $10,000 available if they spend $10,000 of their own cash;
- A $5 million ‘Immediate Work Grant’ that provides not-for-profit and community organisations with grants of up to $100,000 to engage local businesses to do repairs, renovations and upgrades to their facilities; and
- A $30 million ‘Home Improvement Scheme’ that provides home owners with grants for renovations. Home owners can secure grants of:
- $4,000 if they contribute at least $1,000 of their own money; or
- $6,000 if they contribute at least $2,000 of their own money.
The guidelines for all three programs explicitly state “inverter upgrades, batteries and other electrical work that support energy efficiency are eligible works under these programs.” Solar hot water systems are also eligible for funding, but solar PV panels and solar PV installation are excluded.
In addition, the NT Government will:
- Freeze government fees and charges, including electricity prices, until July 2021; and
- Extend payroll tax exemption for hiring Territory employees to 30 June 2021.
On Saturday 21 March the Queensland Government announced a number of measures to assist Queensland manufacturers, including:
- A $500 million job support loan package, which will include low interest loans of up to $250,000 for carry on finance with an initial 12-month interest free period for businesses to retain staff; and
- Payroll tax deferment.
This follows the Queensland Government’s initial Immediate Industry Recovery Package, valued at $27.25 million, which was announced on Friday 21 February, and supports the Worker Transition Scheme and rapid response. The scheme provides a suite of information and support services to workers who may find themselves without work as a result of business closures or redundancy programs.
National Cabinet updates
On Tuesday, 7 April the National Cabinet released a mandatory code of conduct to impose a set of good faith leasing principles to commercial tenancies where the landlord or tenant is an eligible business for the JobKeeper programme. The code will be given effect through state and territory legislation or regulation, and is intended to enable a consistent national approach to the management of commercial lease arrangements through the COVID-19 pandemic. It is intended that landlords and tenants will agree to tailored arrangements, personalised to the circumstances of each case. The following information is a summary only; please reference the full code here.
The over-arching principles include:
- An expectation that landlords and tenants will negotiate in good faith;
- Any agreed arrangement will consider the impact of COVID-19 on the tenant’s revenue, expenses and profitability, and that the agreed arrangement is proportionate to the immediate impact and allows for an appropriate recovery period; and
- The landlord and tenant will assist each other in their respective dealings with other stakeholders to give effect to their arrangement.
Leasing principles include:
- Landlords must not terminate leases due to non-payment of rent during the COVID-19 pandemic period, or during a reasonable recovery period;
- Tenants must remain committed to the terms of their lease, subject to any amendments negotiated under this code or forfeit any protections provided under the code;
- Landlords must offer tenants proportionate reductions in rent payable in the form of waivers and deferrals of up to 100% of the amount ordinarily payable, based on the reduction in the tenant’s trade during the COVID-19 pandemic period and a reasonable recovery period;
- Rental waivers:
- Must be no less than 50% of the total reduction in rent payable;
- Should be of a greater proportion where failure to do so would compromise the tenant’s capacity to fulfil their ongoing obligations under the lease. However, consideration must also be given to the landlord’s financial ability to provide such additional waivers;
- The tenant may waive the requirement for a 50% minimum waiver; and
- Any amount of reduction provided by a waiver may not be recouped by the landlord over the term of the lease.
- Rental deferrals must be paid by the tenant through amortising the deferred amount over the lease term or for a period no less than 24 months, whichever is the greater, unless otherwise agreed by the landlord and tenant. This may exceed the lease term.
Where landlords and tenants cannot reach agreement on leasing arrangements, the matter should be referred for binding mediation.