Federal Cabinet urged to meet in Bega Valley

Mayor Kristy McBain will issue an invitation to the federal Cabinet to meet in the Bega Valley following widespread concern about the effect of the bushfires on local businesses.

The move follows a notice of motion by Cr Russell Fitzpatrick at Wednesday's council meeting urging council immediately advocate to state and federal governments to increase financial support for businesses directly and indirectly affected by the bushfires.

There is serious concern for the future of the shire with so many businesses of all sizes hit by the absence of customers during a time that would usually produce up to 75 per cent of their annual turnover.

The business loans for those affected indirectly by the bushfires have not been well-received. The option of a $50,000 interest-free loan for two years is a burden most mum and dad business owners would not be willing to wear while the $500,000 interest-free loan for two years, more suitable for larger businesses, has had little take up too.

Cr Fitzpatrick said the larger loan required full mortgage security and came with onerous conditions.

"At a recent meeting with the NSW Small Business Minister (Damien Tudehope) he admitted that of 42 applications for the larger loan, only one had been approved," Cr Fitzpatrick said.

"Both measures are loans, making the government little more than a banker," Cr Fitzpatrick said.

"The little coffee shop doesn't need a $50,000 loan, it needs a subsidy for the lost working capital and profit," he said.

"The accommodation providers had bookings but their customers were all told to go home. That decision was right but there should be a system to reimburse the money."

Cr Fitzpatrick believes packages should be industry specific and tailored to the varying circumstances of those industries.

Councillors are concerned that businesses and jobs will be lost, skills and expertise lost and then people will start to move away.

Cr McBain said not one person in the shire had not been impacted by the bushfires.

"If we were a $1bn bank on the brink of failure the government would here to bail us out," Cr McBain said.

"Where is the government. We've got whole departments dedicated to regional development; these are the people who need to be here.

"What is coming is another disaster and then we will see an exodus from regional Australia. Governments need to invest and help save our economies - it has to start with them.

"I have heard stories of utter desperation and I need the federal government to understand how desperate we are because otherwise we we see mass unemployment or regional devastation," Cr McBain said.

There will be a meeting of the Canberra Region Joint Organisation next week at Parliament House where Cr McBain said members would be meeting with a number of MPs including the Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

"We have a number of questions on notice relating to the economic disaster that is unfolding," Cr McBain said.

This story Federal Cabinet urged to meet in Bega Valley first appeared on Bega District News.

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