The South Australian government will help regional businesses affected by the state's COVID-19 lockdown by offering them a financial lifeline after concerns that they were missing out on much-needed aid.
Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas and Whyalla-based Giles MP Eddie Hughes raised the issue of regional businesses being left out of the federal government's financial assistance package earlier today.
Mr Hughes called on both levels of government to take action to offer the degree of financial support being provided to Adelaide businesses to those in rural areas.
Treasurer Rob Lucas has since announced a $3000 emergency cash grant that will be offered to small and medium sized businesses that have suffered a significant loss of income or been forced to close as a result of the lockdown.
It will be part of the government's $100 million Business Support Package which also features a new $1000 cash grant for eligible small businesses who employ no staff.
Mr Lucas described the package as an immediate lifeline for small and medium businesses which are the "lifeblood of our community and underpin our economy".
"The $3000 grants will provide an immediate cash injection to eligible businesses affected by the restrictions, by improving cash flow and helping cover costs such as commercial rent and utility bills," he said.
In a separate announcement, the state government committed to providing income support payments of up to $600 per week for eligible workers in regional SA who live or work outside the COVID Hotspot local government areas.
But Mr Hughes criticised the "uncertainty" generated by the lack of an immediate financial assistance package, saying action should have been taken earlier.
"You would think this far into the pandemic there would have been a coherent framework in place where there is no uncertainty," he said.
"That way regional businesses would know they were going to get some form of support rather than having to wait for an announcement."
Mr Hughes said there was a strong argument that "Job Keeper Mark 2" should be introduced, and that the federal government should take on the responsibility for income support.