Echuca businesses need more than government funding

By Brayden May

ECHUCA businesses have welcomed the Victorian Government’s $3 billion package to support them on the road to COVID-normal but insists more needs to be done.

On Sunday, Premier Daniel Andrews announced cash grants, tax relief and cashflow support would be handed out to businesses to help with their economic recovery.

As part of the package, over $1.1 billion in cash grants will support small and medium sized businesses that are most affected by coronavirus restrictions.

Meanwhile the government will establish a $251 million dedicated licensed venue fund, with grants of between $10,000 and $30,000 for licensed venues of all shapes and sizes.

Echuca Moama Business and Trades Association president Daniel Mackrell said the grants would be a step back towards normal.

“Any bit of support is going to be good after a tough year for so many businesses,” he said.

“It will be great when Victoria does open up some more so we can welcome people back into our community.

“Echuca isn't the only town to rely on tourism. Surrounding towns in Campaspe including Kyabram and Rochester do as well.

“Once we do receive this funding it will be about us all working together to make sure we all have a long-term future.”

As part of its help for hospitality venues, any liquor licensing fees will also be removed in 2021.

Trevor Andrews of the Pastoral Hotel said every little bit would help.

“Any funding we can get is a bonus at this stage, especially when we’ve had to rely on takeaway for most of the year,” he said.

“I’ve already had so many customers tell me they can’t wait to come back and have a drink.

“We paid about $2800 for the liquor licence earlier in the week but that money will only cover about a week’s wages.

“Unfortunately, these grants will only go so far. Then the problem becomes someone will have to pay it back in future and I think that’s what some people forget.

“What we need right now is for our doors to re-open.”

Member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp described the package as a welcome boost for the community.

“We’re standing shoulder-to-shoulder with businesses in Victoria’s north – this billion-dollar support package will put us in the best possible place to reboot our economy as we re-open,” he said.

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