LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – For employees who would otherwise would have their employment terminated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Territory Alliance calls for 75% of their wages (up to a maximum of $6000 per employee per month) to be paid by the Federal Government through the Australian Tax Office and not Centrelink.
These are workers who do not deserve long waits in Centrelink queues.
We also believe sole traders, our arts, events and entertainment sector, also should have their average monthly earnings supported at the rate of 75%.
Businesses closing mean rents not being paid. Unpaid rents mean unpaid mortgages, fire sales of properties and that would add a even greater detriment to the already highly stressed property market.
We acknowledge that landlords are already trying to support business tenants through to the other side to be able to re-open when measures are lifted, by placing a freeze on their rents, and in instances of businesses trying to trade through some are getting rents reduced by 50%.
We believe the Commonwealth Government, in working with financial institutions, should provide a business rental rebate of 75% which can be paid to landlords who accept 75% of rents as full payment.
Interest free loans for 18 months should be made available to Territory based businesses in order to retain employees and maintain operations. After the initial 18 months interest free period an additional 18 month period with a competitive low interest rate should be offered.
The Territory government is in the relatively unique position of being owner of our utilities retail, networks and generation providers. The government needs to provide domestic and business consumers with relief right now.
In an environment where people are increasingly likely to be on work from home arrangements, this will put increases on their power, water and sewerage bills. Businesses have their profits crashing so they too need this relief.
Territory Alliance proposes an immediate 50% reduction on all electricity charges for all connections – domestic and commercial customers – for the next two quarters.
Businesses that can stay open should not be penalised for keeping their business going if they can operate for longer hours.
Territory Alliance proposes discussions across industry sectors to look at practical employee arrangements.
Employers should have the best possible chance of trading through and ensuring they can have the flexibility to keep their staff in jobs. This is everyone at the table, working together to save jobs.
To ensure that we get the private sector preparing to invest, we need to identify and remove unnecessary bureaucratic processes that hold up investment and development.
Public servants who have had their usual work removed or reduced have strong skill sets and can be re-focussed as part of a Recovery Taskforce to concentrate on identifying impediments to investment in the NT.
To help ease the burden on business there should be a six-month payroll tax amnesty.
Some changes recommended by a Territory Recovery Taskforce may be ongoing and some may be temporary.
Business leaders along with the other stakeholders need to be brought to the Recovery Taskforce table to collaborate on the economic recovery.
This work must start now.
The fiscal impact on the Territory government budget will be huge but it will be even bigger if we do not make these strategic measures now. This is a problem all governments will have to grapple with but for now, immediate relief and support is what is needed.