GIPPSLAND’S sole traders who run their business from home continue to be “overlooked for financial support,” according to Eastern Victoria MP Melina Bath.
The Nationals MP said the state government’s latest business support package “again failed to provide any funds for Victorians running their own business from home as a sole trader, like personal trainers, beauticians, hairdressers and gardeners”.
“Strict eligibility criteria on Labor’s token $3000 sole trader grant will stop many accessing desperately needed support,” Ms Bath said.
“Only sole traders working from a permanent commercial location and in an industry that will be restricted or closed under the Second Step of the roadmap can apply.”
It’s believed around 33,000 sole traders will be eligible for the grant. There are more than 400,000 sole traders in Victoria.
In announcing the support, Minister for Industry Support and Recovery Martin Pakula said the support was intended for “those sole traders which have the greatest restrictions and the greatest overheads”.
But Ms Bath said without adequate support, more Victorian businesses would close.
“Many have been forced to shut down for months and need assistance to recover,” Ms Bath said.
During August, the local MP said she brought sole traders to the attention of state parliament, seeking business support on behalf of her Gippsland constituents.
Ms Bath said Nationals MPs had been consistently seeking sole trader support to be included in business support, and “Labor’s package falls way short of the mark”.
“Having raised the issue of inadequate sole trader financial support with the Treasurer Tim Pallas only yesterday, I was provided with his woefully inadequate response,” Ms Bath said on Tuesday.
“Rather than answering the question or referring it to another minister, the Victorian Treasurer shockingly chose only to respond with – ‘The matters raised in your question should be directed to the Minister for Industry Support and Recovery’.
“The Treasurer’s response is dismissive and arrogant, demonstrating Labor’s lack of care or understanding of our hardworking sole traders.”
The Council of Small Business Organisations Australia described the roadmap out of lockdown as “economically and socially reckless”.
Ms Bath urged eastern Victoria sole traders to get in touch with her electorate office to tell their story.
“The Nationals will keep standing up for our sole traders. By collecting your stories, we can take these to the state government to fight for much-needed change,” Ms Bath said.
“Small businesses owners are incredibly hardworking; they form the backbone of our regional communities and are the heart of our regional economy.”
Ms Bath said if the government wanted to “reverse the damage” from the second round of lockdowns, it would remove the funding caveat and immediately extend support to all sole traders.
Sole traders can contact Melina Bath on 5174 7066 or firstname.lastname@example.org or at Vicn.at/messagetodan to share their story.