As the COVID crisis keeps evolving so do our responses, which vary considerably from state to state, consequently we continue to work in my offices to keep you up-to-date.
Certainly the experience of Victoria is a salient lesson to all of us that when our health experts issue new advice, we need to keep following the rules.
There have been some good examples coming out of NSW regarding the value of the COVIDSafe app where it has revealed a previously unknown date from a venue resulting in the identification of an additional 544 contacts, two of who subsequently tested positive.
Early identification of contacts means unknowing carriers can be tracked down before they can spread the virus. If you don’t have it already, do your friends and family a favour, download it today! It has also come to light that Victoria had not initially been using the app and while at the moment it is important all energy is focussed on solving their problems, at some stage the genesis of the decisions made in that state will come into focus.
Meanwhile, as best it can, life continues and it is good news for all South Australian sheep producers that the first section of the rebuilding of the State’s Dog Fence has been completed.
I visited the completed section of the fence a couple of weeks ago and I am really excited to see this project rolling out. This project was made possible by joint funding of $10m from the Commonwealth, a matching contribution from the Marshall Liberal Government and $5m from industry.
The joint investment is a tangible demonstration of the level of co-operation between the politically aligned Federal and State governments.
The first section of the project was completed on Curnamona Station, about 370km north-northeast of Adelaide. Arrangements for the second stage of the rebuild, including contractors and material supply approvals are currently being finalised and are due to commence this month.
This second area of work will focus on 115km of fence from Curnamona/Billeroo West corner through to the NSW border.
South Australia’s Dog Fence is 100 years old and the Government’s commitment to replace 1,600 kilometres of the ageing fence will be a game-changer for the state’s livestock industries. It is a multi-generational investment in our livestock industry.
This e-news will cover:
- SA restrictions update
- JobKeeper and Income Support extended
- $2 billion skills package
- Go Local Campaign
- Australian Energy Regulator – further support
- Regional Connectivity Program opens
SA Restrictions Update from www.SA.gov.au
Activities and gatherings – new restrictions
To manage the public health risk posed by the outbreak of COVID-19 in Victoria and recent cluster in SA, restrictions have been put into place last week and further restrictions came into place yesterday.
From 12:01 am Wednesday 29 July:
- A cap of 100 people for funerals and weddings
- South Australians are no longer able to return to SA from Victoria. Only essential travellers will be able to enter SA from Victoria.
- To be considered for cross border community travel, you must reside within 40km of the border (previously 50km).
- From 12:01 am Wednesday 29 July, only essential travellers will be able to enter SA from Victoria. South Australians are no longer be able to return to SA from Victoria.
- Essential travellers living in cross border communities can still enter South Australia. If you are entering from NSW you cannot travel further than 50 kilometres over the border into South Australia. If you are entering from VIC you cannot travel further than 40 kilometres over the border into South Australia.
- A pre-approval process is now in place for travellers wishing to enter South Australia. The Cross Border Travel Registration should speed up the border crossing process and provide certainty for people who want to enter SA. All travellers intending to enter SA should register for pre-approval. This includes people entering from unrestricted states (NT, QLD, TAS and WA), people entering from permissible states (ACT and NSW) – including those applying for essential traveller status, essential travellers entering from Victoria and SA residents returning home from any other state other than Victoria, regardless of how long they were interstate.
JobKeeper payment and income support extended
The JobKeeper program and the Coronavirus Supplement have been extended under the next phase of our support for affected businesses and households.
The JobKeeper Payment will continue at its current level until 27 September, after which it will be extended for a further six months to 28 March 2021.
Recognising some of the disincentives in the program, a two-tiered payment will also be introduced so as to better reflect the pre-COVID-19 income of payment recipients.
Specifically, from 28 September until 3 January next year, the two payments will be $1,200 and $750 per fortnight, with the lower payment for employees who worked less than 20 hours a week in the month of February pre-COVID-19.
From 4 January to 28 March next year, the two payments will be $1,000 and $650.
The temporary Coronavirus Supplement for those on income support will also be extended until 31 December 2020. The $550 per fortnight Supplement will continue until 24 September.
From 25 September until 31 December, the Supplement will be $250 per fortnight, reducing by the same amount as the JobKeeper payment.
This continued support for Australians who are without work, and for businesses and their workers will help to not only get through this crisis, but recover on the other side.
The extension of support recognises that Australia’s economic recovery is still in its early stages and a number of local businesses and individuals remain significantly affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The program has made a difference to local businesses across Australia by keeping a connection between employers and employees to help them get to the other side of the crisis.
For more information visit www.treasury.gov.au/coronavirus
$2 Billion Skills Package for Economic Recovery and Growth
We also announced a $2 billion Skills Package for Economic Recovery and Growth and includes new initiatives to keep apprentices in jobs and support more Australians to undertake training in areas of demand.
The $1 billion JobTrainer fund will provide access to free or low cost training places in areas our economy needs.
The Government is also expanding and extending the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees wage subsidy with an additional $1.5 billion in funding. Eligibility for the subsidy will be increased to include medium-sized businesses with 199 employees or fewer who had an apprentice in place on 1 July 2020.
This expanded wage subsidy will support almost 90,000 businesses which employ around 180,000 apprentices throughout Australia.
Backing training, apprentices and jobs is all part of our plan to restore our economy after the coronavirus pandemic and keep Australians in work.
Support local small businesses by ‘Going Local First’
A national campaign has been launched to support the recovery of Australia’s small businesses by calling on all Australians to ‘Go Local First’.
Funded by the Federal Government, the campaign led by the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) will urge Australians to ‘Go Local First’ when they are purchasing products and services to help the small business sector get back on its feet.
The campaign will highlight the vital role of small businesses in our nation’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
We all know that spending with local small businesses keeps money within our communities, helping the local economy thrive and I encourage residents of Grey to keep supporting our local businesses.
This campaign is all about getting behind your local small business whether it is your local baker, plumber, barista or butcher for example. Every small business employs locals in our community. It’s time we all come together and continue to support one another.
More support to households and small businesses during COVID-19
Fresh measures outlined last week will require energy companies to provide extended relief to Australian households and small business customers experiencing financial hardship through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Australian Energy Regulator’s Statement of Expectations, first released in March, is consistent with the Government’s strong but reasonable expectations of energy companies to support their customers. The nationally consistent approach was progressed through the National Cabinet.
Previously announced support measures, set to expire on 31 July 2020, will be extended through to 31 October 2020, and potentially beyond.
Under the updated measures, energy companies should:
- Continue to offer all households and small businesses (including those eligible for the JobKeeper payment) in financial stress a payment plan or hardship arrangement, which may include agreeing to a period where no payment will be made;
- Waive disconnection, re-connection and/or contract break fees, along with daily supply charges to retailers until at least 31 October 2020 for small businesses that have ceased operating;
- Not disconnect residential or small business customers in financial distress that have made contact with their retailer or responded to communications before 31 October 2020; and
- Defer referrals of a retailer’s customers to debt collection agencies for recovery actions, or credit default listing until at least 31 October 2020.
The Government reinforced it is important that those who can pay their bills continue to do so, in order for support to be provided where it is most needed.
As such, Australians can find tips for reducing their energy costs and getting the rebates and help they are eligible for on www.energy.gov.au
Households and small businesses can also use the Government’s free energy price comparison website Energy Made Easy to shop around for the best deal for their current situation.
Improving digital connectivity
Applications for the Australian Government’s $53 million Regional Connectivity Program are now open.
Regional development organisations, telecommunications providers, as well as government organisations are encouraged to collaborate on projects and apply for funding.
The program will provide targeted investment in local telco infrastructure projects to maximise economic and social opportunities in regional and remote communities across the country.
Examples of projects that could be funded under the program include upgrades to mobile infrastructure to improve community access to telehealth, remote education and retail internet and phone services, or the development of enterprise-grade broadband networks to support local agricultural, manufacturing and tourism businesses to increase their online presence.
I encourage applicants to use the Program Noticeboard to share ideas and work together to develop proposals that will improve connectivity for Grey and drive benefits for our community.
The online Program Noticeboard provides a portal for collaboration where applicants can find and register potential projects, linking regional communities and industry providers.
Applications are open until 20 October 2020 (5:00pm AEDT). The guidelines and application process is available on the Government’s central grants website: www.grants.gov.au
Reminder of Key Resources
Federal Government updates – www.australia.gov.au
This website is regularly updated to give you the latest Coronavirus news, updates and advice from government agencies across Australia.
Economic Assistance – www.treasury.gov.au
All the fact sheets on individual and business economic assistance measures are available here.
Business Support – www.business.gov.au or call 13 28 46
Find financial assistance, eligibility and timing for government support for Australian businesses.
If you have any feedback or questions please don’t hesitate to reply to this email or give one of my offices a call on the phone numbers listed below. I always welcome residents’ feedback.
Rowan Ramsey MP
Federal Member for Grey