A fair go for drought affected communities and businesses

84 per cent of businesses in regional NSW have been negatively affected by the State’s crippling drought, while almost 70 per cent of affected businesses indicated their local economy had been weakened, according to a new survey from the State’s peak business organisation, the NSW Business Chamber.

The survey which heard from more than 1,000 respondents across the State, highlights the need for immediate practical assistance to support NSW communities through this tough period.

“The impact on primary producers needs to be front of mind and clearly the priority for government and community support. However, the drought is also affecting regional businesses at all parts of the supply chain including retailers, manufacturers, construction, and tourism operators with revenue down across the board,” said NSW Business Chamber Regional Manager Andrew Cottrill

“Cash flow is a huge concern with 70 per cent of surveyed businesses in the Riverina Murray region indicating their cash flow had been adversely impacted. While there are no silver bullets apart from rain, the Chamber would like to see a suite of practical and targeted measures implemented to support businesses, including:

  • A drought-focussed business concierge service to help connect non-farm businesses with existing government programs. The service would also provide access to financial counselling and specialised business advisory services in town halls and community centres across regional NSW.
  • Clear policy statements from the ATO and Revenue NSW on the availability of tailored payment plans to assist businesses in meeting their tax obligations.
  • Australian and NSW Government funding to allow local governments to provide council rate relief for drought affected businesses.
  • Financial relief modelled on the Farm Household Allowance, made available to family enterprises facing equivalent financial hardship.
  • Prioritising drought resilience infrastructure investment in drought-affected communities.

“Australians are known for their generosity and the importance of a fair go. Regional communities such as ours are the food bowl of Australia, so it is only right that support mechanisms are considered for all regional and rural businesses that are doing it tough through this drought” Mr Cottrill said.