A Ballarat business is looking forward to getting back on track after emerging from the latest lockdown, thanks to a new joint government funded financial package announced on Wednesday.
The new Victorian Business Support Package will deliver an additional $400 million in support to thousands of small and medium businesses, with funding to be split 50/50 between the federal and state governments.
The package includes an $85 million small business COVID hardship fund, $156 million business continuity fund and support for commercial tenants and landlords.
Ballarat Indoor Go Karts and Laserforce owner Catherine Hayes said the past three lockdowns had hit the business the hardest.
Mrs Hayes, who bought the business with her husband Darren in December 2019, said it took a lot of hard work and determination to stay afloat during the lockdowns.
She said she could not be as inventive as some other business owners, who could provide takeaways, and the family-run business was forced to close every lockdown.
IN OTHER NEWS
"I think it was in February when we were locked down, we had to put aside a kitty because we knew then that it was never going to be the last time for lockdown and we also knew that the government couldn't go on being as generous as what they were last year," Mrs Hayes said.
"We're smart business people, we did that and that's what's kept us going but even the little top ups they (government) do - the $2000, $2800 - it all goes towards paying the business loans, paying the insurances because for a venue like ours we can't just put insurances on hold.
"For a lot of venues, you still have the daily or monthly expenses that are still being direct-debited out of your trading account whether you are making money or not."
Mrs Hayes said during the longer lockdowns last year, she took the opportunity to repaint the centre.
She said the federal government's Jobkeeper initiative helped her to continue to employ three staff, while last month's school holidays were an added boost to her business.
One of the five key elements that make up the new support package is the return of the state government's commercial tenancies relief scheme.
Under the scheme, landlords are required to provide proportional rent relief in line with a business's reduction in turnover.
Mrs Hayes said her landlord, Colin Lindsay, had passed on every support he had received to the new tenants, who had only taken over the business three months before the first lockdown last year.
She said reinstating the scheme was welcomed, especially when her business had no turnover during the lockdowns.
"That's obviously a great thing and allows the landlords to pass on that support to their tenants. For industries like ours, where as soon as we are shut down, we can't make one per cent of our normal turnover," Mrs Hayes said.
"When we can't make a single dollar, we welcome any support the government gives."
State opposition treasury spokesperson Louise Staley said the reintroduction of the scheme was pleasing but no land tax relief was being offered.
Master Builders Victoria welcomed the joint government's small business COVID hardship fund.
In a statement, MBA said some members had been left up to $20,000 out of pocket and forced to dip into their savings to stay afloat from the crippling effects of the most recent lockdown.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Victorian businesses had borne the brunt of the heavy cost of lockdowns.
"Last year, Victoria and our nation faced heavy blows from COVID, but with the right supports in place our economy and businesses came back strongly and a million people returned to work," Mr Morrison said.
Victorian premier Daniel Andrews said, the package was about growing jobs to support the state's economic recovery.
"With this funding we'll continue driving jobs and economic recovery here in Victoria, and for the nation," Mr Andrews said.
If you are seeing this message you are a loyal digital subscriber to The Courier, as we made this story available only to subscribers. Thank you very much for your support and allowing us to continue telling Ballarat's story. We appreciate your support of journalism in our great city.