Wage subsidies of $1500 a fortnight will soon flow to eligible workers at Dubbo as they and their beleaguered employers are thrown a lifeline amid the coronavirus crisis.
Dubbo business owners plunged into uncertainty have welcomed the $130 billion JobKeeper package's passage through Parliament on Wednesday night.
It brought relief to Joanne Blair, owner of the Milestone Hotel, which had to cease normal operations on March 23 as the government put measures in place to rein in the spread of coronavirus.
The publican and employer of 35 people initially thought she would have to lay off staff before Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the wage subsidies program, geared at saving six million jobs.
"[We're] really thrilled the Parliament has passed the JobKeeper package," she said.
"It's going to give our staff a lot more certainty, it's going to mean we can expand our trading hours and it will really help us to get through this difficult time and retain our staff and know that we've got our experienced and skilled staff still with us at the other end when we can fully reopen."
Under the package the tax office will give businesses with a 30 per cent fall in turnover due to coronavirus $1500 for each worker a fortnight, with payments expected to reach employers in the first week of May.
All full-time and part-time workers are eligible, along with casuals who've been with their employer for 12 months, sole traders and New Zealanders on 444 visas.
Mrs Blair is now consulting accountants and industry bodies about the program's implementation.
"Cashflowing it is going to be a bit of a challenge but we'll do our best," she said.
Food wholesaler Midwest Foods & Liquor serves clients across an extensive part of NSW from its Dubbo base.
"At Midwest Foods & Liquor we welcome the JobKeeper initiative - the largest single piece of fiscal policy in Australian history," finance and HR director Toni Alderdice said.
"We employ nearly 80 staff and this will enable us to retain our valuable employees ready for when we come out the other side of these challenging times.
"Our customers include pubs, clubs, restaurants, cafes and takeaways and we believe it will also impact their position long term during this unprecedented period.
"There is no industry unaffected by what is happening at the moment as we all work together during this period of social distancing and isolation."
This package isn't perfect. Labor would have done more and sooner – for casuals, visa holders and other vulnerable workers.— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) April 9, 2020
But Labor has spent weeks arguing for a wage subsidy – and we aren't going to stand in the way of support that millions of Australians need right now. pic.twitter.com/SPxLTC6Cgm
Fitness Focus owner Andy Bassett had to retrench all but one of his 30 staff when a government ban forced him to close the gym last month.
He had been closely following information about the JobKeeper program but said he was still unsure if the business qualified.
"Fingers are crossed because I've already heard many stories of businesses [in NSW and the ACT] permanently shutting," he said.
"It's going to be hard enough for many because we basically have to rebuilt our business structure, so if we still have really dedicated team members it will definitely make the process easier."
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