News National PM to talk bushfire recovery with business

PM to talk bushfire recovery with business

Business owner Sally Anne Wilson (left) stands in front of her destroyed shop with her partner Christopher Lee in Cobargo. Photo: AAP
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The Prime Minister and treasurer are preparing to discuss the bushfire crisis with business heads in Canberra.

Business and industry groups will on Tuesday tell the government what it can do to help bushfire-affected businesses.

The government says it is open to ideas and proposals to help get local economies back on track.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and small business minister Michaelia Cash will each address the roundtable.

“These businesses are viable, but vulnerable and we need to do everything we can to get them back on their feet,” Senator Cash said.

“The impact and devastation in areas of these bushfires have been unprecedented.”

Michaelia Cash
Small business minister Michaelia Cash wants businesses back up and running as soon as possible. Photo: AAP

While it will address property loss suffered by businesses, the meet will also look at the bushfires’ impact on supply chains, staffing and customer levels.

Labor’s small business spokesman Brendan O’Connor wants the Coalition to set up a task force to directly advise the government, mirroring the federal response to the Queensland floods in 2010-2011.

The task force would be made up of eminent business people and help shape policy responses such as how concessional loans would operate, insurance interactions and loan security.

Mr O’Connor has also pointed to the Victorian government’s response to the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009, namely low interest loans to small business coupled with a mentoring program.

“Many small businesses have lost their livelihoods due to devastating bushfires and wonder how they can rebuild,” he said.

“They continue to face economic uncertainty during and after the fires and require immediate and effective support.”

The meet comes as Westpac estimates the bushfire crisis will cost the Australian economy $5 billion and cut up to 0.5 per cent off its economic growth.

The government has already announced a series of disaster relief payments and grants available for businesses, farms and local councils.