NSW Minister Finance and Small Business Damien Tudehope speaks to the media during a press conference in Sydney, Wednesday, April 15, 2020. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)
NSW Minister Finance and Small Business Damien Tudehope speaks to the media during a press conference in Sydney, Wednesday, April 15, 2020. (AAP Image/Joel Carrett)

NSW border bubble businesses snubbed in $45m cash splash

THE NSW Government has thumbed its nose at businesses along the Queensland/Northern Rivers border, refusing to match grants of up to $10,000 its giving to those along the Victorian state line.

The Southern Border Small Business Support Grant was announced on August 22, to enable businesses in 13 local government areas along the NSW/Victorian border to apply for $5000 and $10,000 grants through Service NSW.

But business owners on the Northern Rivers will not be able to access similar benefits.

The decision to hand out $45 million to NSW businesses along the Victorian state line and not this side of Queensland is based on which government closed which border.

NSW Small Business Minister Damien Tudehope explained:

"The decision to close the Northern border was made by the Queensland Government," Mr Tudehope said.

"The Southern Border Small Business Support Grant is designed to respond to the impacts experienced by small businesses as a result of the NSW Government's decision to close the Victorian border.

"The NSW Government is continuing to assess the challenges faced and impacts on NSW small businesses in border communities."

Mr Tudehope said the NSW Government announced a number of stimulus packages to assist small businesses across the state, including those located near the Queensland border.

"This includes the Small Business Support Fund grant of up to $10,000 for employing businesses highly impacted by COVID-19; Small Business Recovery Grant of between $500 and $3,000 for businesses in highly impacted industries with costs to re-open or scale up operations."

State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin has written to the NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro asking him to match the scheme for business in the NSW-Queensland border bubble and beyond.

"These are New South Wales residents and the NSW Government is responsible for them and to them," Ms Saffin said.

Ms Saffin called for this program to cover all businesses located in the Local Government Areas within the bubble zone - including Tweed Shire, Kyogle and Tenterfield Shire - and to also be extended to other businesses in the Lismore City, Richmond Valley, Byron Shire, Ballina Shire and Clarence Valley LGAs.

Ms Saffin said that she was asking for extra targeted support for businesses over and above pre-existing support measures outlined by Minister Tudehope.

"This program would help with local businesses' day-to-day costs, keep their doors open and keep people in their jobs," Ms Saffin said.

Earlier this week, Tweed councillor Owen Jones sent a letter to NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian, asking for relief for local businesses affected by the Queensland / NSW border.

Mr Owen added in his letter that many Tweed businesses were only just surviving.

"I have been inundated with correspondence from business owners concerned that they will have to close their doors if restrictions are not eased soon," he added.

Liberal MLC and Northern Rivers resident Catherine Cusack agreed with the minister in blaming the Queensland government for the issue.

"The NSW Government did not close the Queensland Border and is powerless. We did close the Victorian border but this has been in close consultation with the Victorian Government so it's being done with the needs of citizens in both states in mind," she said.

"That simply isn't the case for the Queensland border community, due to the rash and dystopian approach being taken by Queensland. I raised these issues yesterday in Parliament, calling for a more compassionate and intelligent arrangement with Queensland."