Plan to safeguard local businesses

Local Leaders have released details of a 10-point plan (see more details below) to help the Cairns region’s businesses community survive the coronavirus pandemic.

The Local Leadership Committee (LLC) for the Cairns coronavirus response, consisting of Cairns Mayor Bob Manning, Member for Cairns Michael Healy and Member for Leichhardt Warren Entsch, met this morning for the fifth time and revealed progress had already been made on three of the 10 initiatives proposed.

The Economic Response and Recovery Sub-Committee (ERRSC), which is advising local leaders on the initiatives that should be considered to support business survival and recovery, put the plan forward.

The “business survival plan” was distributed to relevant parties within the three levels of government on Friday and over the weekend for consideration.

Mr Entsch said the Federal Government was considering direct wage subsidies for significantly impacted businesses to support staff retention, and yesterday, the Prime Minister announced actions for commercial rent support, including a moratorium on evictions over the next six months.

Council has also developed a reference point of information for local businesses on the support packages available through a new local, dedicated hotline (Cairns Local Coronavirus Hotline on 1300 396 102), and a dedicated webpage (

Cr Manning said that the newly elected Council would consider further measures in its budget process to provide residents and businesses with further support.

“We are supportive on the business survival plan and once the new Council is sworn in, we will looking at our budgets to consider ways that we can help people get through this crisis,” Cr Manning said.

Mr Healy confirmed that there were now 21 people in Cairns region to have returned positive results for coronavirus, which included six additional cases over the weekend.

“With the majority of those cases, people have picked up the disease while overseas,” Mr Healy said. “The focus remains on social distancing and Queensland Police have been empowered to enforce both the quarantine rules and also ensuring people are adhering to social distancing measures.”

Mr Entsch also confirmed that in relation to local concerns about the availability of personal protection equipment, there were a significant number of masks expected to arrive to the Far North shortly, which would be distributed through Primary Health Network.

The LLC is scheduled to next meet on Thursday.

Business Survival Initiatives – 10-point plan

  1. Waiver of public sector taxes, fees and charges for significantly impacted businesses for six months (e.g. April to September 2020).
  2. Direct funding support for significantly impacted businesses to enable those businesses to meet key fixed costs (rent, rates, insurance, electricity etc.).
  3. For businesses directly impacted by travel bans and social distancing measures significantly restricting operations (tourism, restaurants, cafes, gyms etc.) increase the Boosting Cash Flow For Employers subsidy percentage to 200% of PAYG withheld.
  4. Waiver of payroll tax for impacted businesses for the entirety of the 2019/2020 financial year.
  5. Direct wage subsidy for significantly impacted businesses to support retention of critical staff during the crisis.
  6. Insurance premium cost deferral or support for significantly impacted businesses.
  7. Commercial rent support for significantly impacted businesses with ‘flow through’ support for commercial landlords.
  8. Funded business advisory support services for impacted businesses.
  9. Develop a reference point/source of information for local businesses on the support packages available.
  10. Relaxation of visa working conditions for ‘stranded’ working holiday migrants and students.

/Public Release. View in full here.