The professional accounting body has now urged the federal government to develop a national post-lockdown business support strategy, including ongoing tapered financial support for small businesses, and a moratorium of compliance activity, including ATO debt collection.
As it stands, the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 disaster payment and the joint Commonwealth and state-funded JobSaver payments will cease once current lockdown restrictions are eased or when the Commonwealth hotspot declaration is removed.
CPA Australia chief executive Andrew Hunter said that while new COVID-19 business support measures were a positive development for those facing lockdown restrictions, removing them too soon would be a mistake.
“The impact on businesses doesn’t stop the moment a government calls time on a lockdown. If support is withdrawn immediately, many businesses may experience a damaging hard landing,” said Mr Hunter.
“By tapering business support for a couple of weeks post-lockdown, the government can soften the negative effects of withdrawing support.”
Mr Hunter believes a combination of Commonwealth and state or territory supports should be considered, and has urged Prime Minister Scott Morrison to contemplate a co-ordinated national approach at the next national cabinet meeting.
Some supports that should be considered include a deferral of Commonwealth and state or territory SME revenue collection, consumer incentives such as dining and accommodation vouchers, and financial assistance for businesses to seek professional advice, said Mr Hunter.
“If the government takes the initiative immediately, we could have a strategy in place for when current lockdowns end, and for any future lockdowns,” said Mr Hunter.
“We acknowledge that this will require a high level of co-ordination between different levels of government, but we don’t think that’s too much for Australians to expect.
“Based on our experience, a co-ordinated national approach, including direct and indirect supports, makes a big difference to businesses’ success after an extended lockdown.”
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.