small business | February 02, 2021

Labor’s small business grants missing in action

Countless small businesses still haven’t received desperately-needed COVID-19 grants funding.

Nationals Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said analysis presented to Victoria’s Parliamentary Accounts and Estimates Committee revealed a lack of accountability or transparency with 14 of the 20 business support programs the Andrews Labor Government established as part of the state’s COVID recovery.

She said of the six packages the government had reported on, three had distributed 12 per cent or less of their total funds at December 4 last year.

Ms Kealy said this was an enormous letdown for thousands of businesses.

“These grants are an urgently needed lifeline for some struggling local small businesses, but Daniel Andrews is sitting on this money. These businesses are the backbone of our country communities and need to be supported in a timely and fair way, but too many of them have been forced to wait months for support or have been left out entirely,” she said.

“I have been contacted by numerous businesses who have tried to no avail to access grants they should be eligible for, or whose applications have been sitting idle in government systems for more than four months in some cases.

“The government must immediately aim to broaden its eligibility criteria for business support grants. Daniel Andrews also needs to consult with the tourism and hospitality sector to determine the best ways to distribute the vast sums of unallocated budget support, for those businesses that will continue to be affected by COVID-19 restrictions into 2021.

“The Liberal Nationals are calling on the government to present to Parliament a final summary of funds expended, and detailed statistics of businesses supported for all 20 programs it announced.”


The analysis to Victoria’s Parliamentary Accounts and Estimates Committee shows:

  • Of the 20 business support programs presented by the government, 14 of them were unable to provide any details of their efficacy or how much money was given to support businesses.
  • Of the six packages reported on by the government, less than half the promoted value of the package was distributed by 4 December 2020. That’s over six months past the introduction of restrictions and forced business closures. Half of the six packages had distributed 12 per cent or less of the value of the packages.
  • Only 4000 of the approximately 400,000 sole traders in Victoria were eligible for support, and only $12 million of the government’s $100 million for sole traders was allocated by 4 December 2020.
  • The hospitality industry suffered the longest and most severe lockdown restrictions imposed by the Andrews Labor Government, but less than 50 per cent of the specialised support available was distributed by 4 December 2020.
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