New South Wales, currently the Australian state worst affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, has announced a state government stimulus package encompassing health and economic measures worth $2.3 billion.
Some $700 million will be spent on boosting the capacity of intensive care units throughout the state, while $1.6 billion is being pledged to help keep people in jobs, and to support small business.
The New South Wales stimulus offers support additional to what’s offered in the federal government’s stimulus, released last week.
“This package works hand-in-hand with the recent moves by the Reserve Bank of Australia and the federal government,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in a statement.
The federal government is also reportedly working on expanding measures for industries most at risk as the economic fallout continues, with a second package expected to be finalised by the end of the week.
Payroll tax waived
Probably the most significant measure for small business is $450 million allocated to waive payroll tax for the next three months, or until the end of the financial year.
This will be available for all businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million.
The waiver will be additional to other benefits laid out in the federal government’s stimulus.
While it is not currently clear, it is expected that the payroll tax exemptions will be applied automatically.
The government is also bringing the next round of payroll tax cuts forward, meaning the payroll tax threshold will rise to $1 million in the financial year 2020-21.
The New South Wales government is also scrapping certain fees and charges that apply to businesses in vulnerable sectors.
These include fees for bars, cafes, restaurants and tradespeople.
The total allocated for this measure is $80 million, but it is not yet clear exactly which fees will be waived, or for how long.
The state government has pledged $250 million to employ additional cleaning staff for public infrastructure, such as public transport assets, schools and public buildings.
Not only will this help keep those who have no choice but to travel to work safe, it may provide a welcome boost for self-employed people in this sector, or for small cleaning companies.
Similarly, the government has announced $250 million to spend on fast-tracking the maintenance of public assets, including social housing and fencing, as well as $500 million to bring forward capital works and maintenance.
Again, it’s unclear how these contracts will be managed, but it is believed they will help support small businesses and sole traders.