State Govt Business Survival Loans’ Cruel Eligibility Loophole Must Be Changed

The Queensland Government’s offer of loans to small business of up to $250,000 as a lifeline in the COVID-19 pandemic has a serious loop-hole. Only some businesses are eligible for the loan.

The State Treasurer announced $500 million was available in interest free loans of up to $250,000 to support businesses to keep Queenslanders in work.

But you are only eligible if you have been in business since 1 July 2017 - almost 3 years.

There is no reason this exception should apply and those businesses established since July 2017 are equally hit by the business collapses due to coronavirus restrictions. Why has the State abandoned the staff members of those businesses?

The survival loans should apply to all affected Queensland businesses, irrespective of when they began.

The State Government should not be choosing who should go under and who should survive which is effectively what it’s doing with this loan exclusion.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has spread a message of solidarity in troubling times but the loan restrictions undermine solidarity as the government picks and chooses the businesses that will survive.

Newer businesses are more vulnerable as they have not had as much time to establish, so many of them will go under because the government does not extend the help to them that’s it’s offering to others.

I have had real concerns that the mental health of Queensland business people will suffer if they are shut out of the lifeline loan process.

Lives are at stake here. Not just for business owners but their staff. Sole traders don’t qualify either so what happens to the families of sole-trader families?

The other issue is that in some industries if you are declared bankrupt you cannot operate. People could not only lose their businesses but they could lose their whole careers, which they have spent their lifetime building. This will lead to more suicides.

The Queensland community should call on Annastacia Palaszczuk and the Queensland Government to open the loans to businesses that were operating as at 1 March 2020 and also to sole traders.

New businesses, companies and sole traders also need support in these very troubling times. There is no good reason to exclude them from the support package.

We all need support and we need to stick together and get through this together. The current approach creates a split environment and almost handpicks who has to fold and who gets to survive. It is not the Australian spirit.

I urge Premier Palaszczuk to be compassionate and get behind all business in Queensland, not just business that is over 3 years old.