Tuesday, 12 May 2020
Questions without Notice
COVID-19: Small Business
My question is to the Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator Cash. Can the minister update the Senate on how the Morrison government's economic response to the coronavirus pandemic is helping small and family businesses to remain resilient and supporting the livelihoods of business owners and their employees during this unprecedented economic crisis?
I thank Senator Bragg for his question. Small and family businesses are indeed the backbone of the Australian economy, and the Morrison government has put in place a significant range of support measures to help them through the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, we have an investment of $320 billion across the forward estimates, representing 16.4 per cent of annual GDP. As the Minister for Finance has said today, the support is temporary, measured and scalable.
The centrepiece of this historic support package is, of course, our $130 billion JobKeeper payment. In the absence of the Morrison government's JobKeeper payment, Treasury estimates that unemployment would have been at least five percentage points higher and would have peaked at around 15 per cent in the September quarter. The ATO has now received around 835,000 enrolments from entities that employ over 5.5 million Australians. Money began flowing back to these businesses last week. As a government, we are confident that the JobKeeper payment and the ability to maintain that connection between employers and employees will enable those businesses to return with their teams as soon as they are able to.
In addition to the $130 billion JobKeeper payment, we are also providing much-needed cash flow support to small and medium businesses, with boosts of between $20,000 and up to $100,000 to eligible businesses, delivered through credits in the business activity statement system. The measure has gone a long way to improve confidence among our small and medium businesses. Small and medium businesses are the backbone of the Australian economy, and we will continue to support them.
We know that cash flow remains critical—in particular at this time—to small and family businesses. The boost in cash flow measure to date has delivered almost $7.79 billion in cash flow to nearly 440,000 businesses. Via this measure, money is going directly into the bank accounts of these small and medium businesses who employ Australians.
We're also facilitating greater access to finance through the SME guarantee. This is helping small and medium businesses access much-needed funds by providing lenders with a guarantee of 50 per cent of new, unsecured loans up to $250,000. Almost $1 billion of loans to small businesses have been approved to date. Again, small and medium businesses are the backbone of the Australian economy, and we will continue to support them.
As we saw last Friday with the meeting of national cabinet, we are now on the pathway or the road to recovery through the three-step process that is now being implemented by the state and territory governments. We have one goal in 2020, and that is, of course to protect in the first instance the health and wellbeing of Australians and their livelihoods through what is a global crisis and to ensure that, when the recovery comes, we are well positioned to bounce back strongly on the other side. As the Prime Minister has said, the pathway to our recovery will be through growing the Australian economy, and you do this by supporting your small and medium businesses, who employ nearly seven million Australians. When we came to government, we backed these businesses through lower taxes, cutting red tape and providing incentives for them to invest back into their businesses. Through this crisis, we will continue to support them because they are the backbone of the Australian economy.