Small and medium business loans are available to help people graduating off JobKeeper.
Small and medium business loans are available to help people graduating off JobKeeper.

Cheap business loan program extended for those off JobKeeper

Cheap COVID-recovery loans with 24-month repayment holidays are on offer for Mackay and Whitsunday businesses that move off JobKeeper by March 28.

More than 350,000 current JobKeeper recipients Australia-wide are expected to be eligible under the expanded SME Loan Guarantee Scheme.

Loans will be available from April 1 and must be approved before December 31 this year.

The Morrison-McCormack Government will extend the scheme as part of its commitment to support up to $40 billion in lending to small and medium enterprises.

Under the existing scheme, the government says more than 35,000 loans worth more than $3 billion have already been provided to help businesses get to the other side of this pandemic.

The scheme will now target businesses relying on JobKeeper during the March quarter.

It comes as the government promises 800,000 discounted tickets to tourism destinations such as Hamilton Island and Proserpine between April 1 and July 31 as well as other aviation support programs to boost tourism across the country.

 

Airlie Beach foreshore in the Whitsundays. Picture: Rae Wilson
Airlie Beach foreshore in the Whitsundays. Picture: Rae Wilson

 

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the support measures would work hand-in-hand to boost interstate tourism and aviation in key regions significantly impacted by the loss of tourists.

"The new Tourism Aviation Network Support Program will give Australians clear incentives to travel to key domestic tourism areas," he said.

"Discounts will be offered on tens of thousands of fares per week across an initial 13 key tourism regions.

"We're working with airlines to increase the number of flights to these tourism areas - giving travellers the flexibility needed when organising dream holidays to destinations such as Tropical North Queensland and Kangaroo Island.

"In a big win for local communities, especially in regional Australia, we will continue to financially support flights which are so key to health services, employment opportunities and social activities.

"We're also backing the workforces of our international airlines and the teams and infrastructure they need so that when tourism takes off again and our borders reopen, our airlines are ready to go."

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said supporting the aviation sector would not just keep planes in the air but also provide a boost to domestic tourism while international borders remained closed.

"We know there are sectors and regions across the country that are continuing to do it tough, which is why we will continue to support the economy with proportionate, timely, scalable and targeted assistance," he said.

"This SME Recovery Scheme is part of the next step in our plan to help small businesses stand on their own two feet as the economy recovers from COVID-19.

"The expansion and extension of the loans will back businesses that back themselves and will help businesses who continue to do it tough build a bridge to the other side of the crisis and keep their staff employed."

 

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Tourism Minister Dan Tehan said the government was also extending temporary, targeted measures for parts of the tourism sector impacted most from border closures.

"The thing our tourism operators want more than anything is tourists so we need Australians to do their patriotic duty and book a holiday this year because every dollar spent on an Australian holiday is a dollar that supports a local job and a local business," he said.

"Our government's support package will help get more Australians into those tourist areas most impacted by border lockdowns, and we need states and territories to do their part by agreeing to a nationally consistent approach to using border closures and lockdowns as a last resort on medical advice."

The SME Recovery Loan Scheme will benefit from an increased government guarantee, increasing from the current 50-50 split between the government and the banks to an 80-20 split.

The government believes this will encourage more banks to support small businesses.

The expanded scheme will also increase the size of eligible loans, increasing from $1 million under the current scheme to $5 million.

Businesses with a higher turnover will also benefit under the expanded scheme, with the maximum eligible turnover increased from $50 million to $250 million.

Maximum loan terms under the expanded scheme also will be increased from five to 10 years - providing businesses and lenders with greater flexibility.

The expanded scheme will also allow lenders to offer borrowers a repayment holiday of up to 24 months and allow eligible businesses to refinance their existing loans.

Other new measures in the support package include:

New International Aviation Support to help Australia's two international passenger airlines maintain more than 8000 core international aviation jobs

Support for regular passenger airports to meet their domestic security screening costs

A new Aviation Services Assistance Support Program to help ground-handling companies meet the costs of mandatory training, certification and accreditation to ensure they maintain their workforces so they can stand them back up when the market expands again.

The reinstalment of domestic aviation security screening cost rebates for more than 50 regular passenger airports

a 50 per cent waiver of domestic air services charges for Regular Public Transport and aeromedical flights

the International Freight Assistance Mechanism.

Click the links for information on the COVID‑19 tourism support plan and the Small and Medium Enterprise Recovery Loan Scheme

 

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