Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Richard Riordan: Govt schemes must reach small businesses, not local council coffers

The Andrews Labor Government must ensure that its outdoor trading support scheme announced this week goes to small businesses and not local council coffers.

After nearly two years of lockdowns and tight restrictions, retail and hospitality businesses across Melbourne and regional Victoria urgently need support to get back on their feet.

The Liberal Nationals next week will debate its Local Government Amendment Bill which seeks to suspend any new and increased fees and charges until EOFY 2025.

This would ensure local councils do not charge increased fees and charges to small business, helping to support the recovery of thousands of Victorian businesses.

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Concerningly, the government’s announcement only ‘encouraged’  local councils to waive permit fees and charges and does not guarantee the promised money will go where it is needed.

The Andrews Labor Government must also rule out massive fee hikes to CBD traders who will rely on outdoor dining areas.

This follows the City of Melbourne and the City of Yarra’s decision to charge in excess of $5000 per year for ‘parklet dining’ starting early next year.

Shadow Minister for Local Government, Richard Riordan, said, “The CBD, regional tourism and hospitality businesses are desperate to recover and the Andrews Labor Government must ensure that funds go directly to those in dire need of help.

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“Local councils and the government should be doing everything in their power to revitalise community organisations, businesses and regions that have suffered so much through repeated lockdowns and strict restrictions.

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“We need to ensure the money gets to where it needs to be, supporting businesses and workers, not propping up local council balance sheets.”

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