The NSW Liberals and Nationals Government is unable to say how the Wollongong – the state’s third largest city – will be supported in a raft of economic stimulus packages it has announced as a consequence of the COVID-19 virus pandemic.
The Government announced on 17 March 2020 that it would provide funding for homelessness, an additional $700 million for health, $250 million to bring forward maintenance of public infrastructure, $500 million in capital works and maintenance and a $1 billion Working for NSW fund, which was also announced on 27 March 2020.
I asked the Minister for Finance and Small Business, Damien Tudehope, in written questions (lodged by a Parliamentary colleague in the NSW Legislative Council as the Legislative Assembly does not permit any questions unless it is sitting) on 1 May 2020 to provide a list of the projects, their purpose, the number of jobs created and their costs for the Wollongong local government area.
The Minister has been unable to answer any of my questions because:
“Data is not available at the Local Government level to allow for the requested breakdown of projects, jobs and costs for the Wollongong LGA.”
The fact that the NSW Liberals and Nationals Government cannot tell the Wollongong community in detail on how workers and businesses will be supported by the economic stimulus packages it announced on the 17 March 2020 and 27 March 2020 is simply astounding.
The Government should know by now on who, what, when, where and how much they are spending on individual projects.
There are thousands of local jobs and the viability of thousands of businesses on the line in the state’s third largest city and yet the Government cannot tell us what support we can count on for economic recovery.
It has also been revealed only 216 Wollongong local government area based businesses received small business grants of up to $10,000, which was announced on 3 April 2020.
Only $2 million in support to eligible small businesses has been provided under the $10,000 grants program.
There are a further 33 applications under this program that were yet to be assessed.
A total of 274 Wollongong electorate based business applied for the grant.
The NSW Liberals and Nationals Government announced this $750 million Small Business Support Fund as the centre-piece of a third wave of support measures to keep small businesses afloat.
Many local businesses that have taken a hit are ineligible because they don’t employ anyone. This restriction alone leaves thousands of local small businesses without support.
In addition, only two local businesses of 21 who registered with the COVID-19 Emergency Supplies Registration Portal are currently under assessment by NSW Health for the provision of protective personal equipment (PPEs). A further nine businesses are either under assessment or have now been listed on the on the PPE supplies portal.
I believe the Wollongong community will be very underwhelmed by the NSW Liberals and Nationals Government’s economic stimulus packages, which were announcement with such fanfare a couple of months ago but appear to be delivering only a fraction of the support needed to keep local jobs and businesses afloat in the state’s third largest city.
At a time when all parts of the economy need support a suite of measures are needed and it appears, when it comes to a share for Wollongong, the Berejikilian Government either doesn’t know what is coming our way, or have made their measures out to be more than they are delivering.