Mayor welcomes changes to small business bushfire package

Bega Valley Mayor, Kristy McBain today welcomed changes to the joint Commonwealth-NSW Government package, Bushfire Affected Small Business Rebuild, for small businesses impacted by this summers’ bushfires.

At the launch of the federal and New South Wales government's bushfire business package, from left to right, Peter Caldwell from Longstocking Brewery, Chris Nicholls from Merimbula Visitor Information Centre, Bega Valley Mayor Kristy McBain and President of the Merimbula Chamber of Commerce Nigel Ayling.

11 March 2020

Bega Valley Mayor, Kristy McBain today welcomed changes to the joint Commonwealth-NSW Government package for small businesses impacted by this summers’ bushfires.

“We thank the federal and state governments for listening to our feedback over the past few weeks and addressing a number of major concerns for small businesses across the Sapphire Coast and Bega Valley,” Cr McBain say.

“When you have over 90,000 tourists evacuated from the region, it really is a disaster and has a continual flow-on effect; from the businesses to their suppliers, to their staff. I know some business owners put themselves into debt so they could keep their staff employed.

“This new package, with its broader eligibility criteria and minimised application process, will help many small businesses in our region and should make a huge difference to our economy.

“We are particularly pleased that existing applications for the grant and both loans will be re-assessed against the new conditions and guidelines.

“We also welcome the commitment of additional on-the-ground National Bushfire Recovery Agency staff to directly help small business owners navigate systems, fill in forms and get the support they need.

“I’m pleased that this has been described by the government as an evolving package as Council and the community see this announcement as the beginning of ongoing conversations and financial support.”

President of the Merimbula Chamber of Commerce, Nigel Ayling says he feels relieved and is grateful the concern of his members and community have been heard. He believes the $10,000 grant now available to businesses affected by the tourist evacuation notice will make a difference.

“We have hundreds of businesses affected by the fires and so far they’ve had access to nothing,” he says

“Less red tape is good and so is extra people on-the-ground to work with us. If the money flows through within a week, as has been promised, it will be worth our while filling out a form for $10,000.

“Looking at the medium to long term plan, we like to get the CBD upgrade fast tracked as this would help the growth of the town and its local businesses, and employ people. That would be a good next step.”

The Bushfire Affected Small Business Rebuild package includes:

  • a new $10,000 grant to assist significantly-impacted small businesses in selected Local Government Areas get back on their feet and maintain their businesses. To be eligible, businesses must have experienced a 40% drop in revenue over a three-month period, compared to the previous year, as a result of the bushfires
  • greater access to concessional loans with fewer documents and fewer security requirements
  • more experienced and trusted business advisers available on the ground working directly with small business owners to help them navigate the challenging road to recovery.

Further details are available on the National Bushfire Recovery Agency website at


Photograph: At the launch of the Bushfire Affected Small Business Rebuild package in Merimbula today [from left]: Peter Caldwell from Longstocking Brewery, Chris Nicholls, Manager, Merimbula Visitor Information Centre, Bega Valley Mayor, Kristy McBain and Nigel Ayling, President of the Merimbula Chamber of Commerce.

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