On 12 January 2011 the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) published a comprehensive factsheet for primary producers and small business owners outlining information on special disaster flood assistance. As a guide to determining if you may be eligible for assistance, small business is defined as having an Australian Business Number (ABN) and less than 20 employees and both primary producers and small businesses must derive the majority of their income from the business (Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority (QRAA) will account for fluctuations in income).
As assistance has only become available in the wake of recent natural events in Queensland, OBT has summarised the types of assistance available below. We then urge you to contact us on 07 3408 3444 to discuss your particular circumstance.
In the first instance, emergency support information telephone lines have been made available by the ATO, Community Services, Insurance Council of Australia, Insurance Ombudsman Service, Lifeline, RSPCA and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland so let us know if you require any of those details.
1. Special disaster flood assistance grants
Grants of up to $25,000 (comprising Tier One and Tier Two grants) are available to help Queensland primary producers and small businesses who have been affected by the November-December 2010 floods, including those in January 2011. Grants are available under Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA) and help eligible applicants to pay for costs arising from flood damage. The grant scheme will run until 30 September 2011 and not-for-profit businesses are ineligible, but are covered under other sections of the NDRRA.
To be eligible all applicants must be located in one of 26 specified flood-affected shires and be able to prove that they have suffered damage as a direct result of flooding (e.g. photos, quotes and/or tax invoices). Conditions are specified with respect to insurance claims, tax payable, repayment of unspent money, false claims and collaboration of efforts so ensure you discuss these with OBT before submitting your application for assistance.
2. Concessional loans, financial counselling and freight subsidies
Primary producers and small businesses located in one of 28 specified shires may also be eligible for concessional (low interest) loans through QRAA of up to $250,000. Primary producers can also access freight subsidies of up to $5,000 through DEEDI. Additionally, the Queensland Government offers free confidential financial counselling for primary producers and will pay primary producers 50 per cent of the freight cost – up to maximum $5,000 – for the movement of foodstuffs, building/fencing materials, restocking of livestock, fodder, machinery/equipment and fuel.
3. Fodder assistance
The Queensland Government and AgForce are assisting with the coordination of fodder drops for primary producers in need of assistance. If you require a fodder drop or wish to donate fodder please contact AgForce Regional Manager Danielle Hogarth on 0427 021 370 or DEEDI Senior Beef Extension Officer Ken Murphy on 0419 658 412. Expenditure on fodder drops for stranded livestock is an eligible expense for special disaster flood assistance grants in the designated council areas. Anyone donating fodder must ensure that appropriate declaration forms are completed when moving hay from fire ant restricted zones or where it is contaminated with Class 2 weeds.
4. Financial assistance for individuals and families
If you have been personally affected by the floods you may be eligible for financial assistance from the Queensland Government, such as a personal hardship allowance, an essential household contents grant or a structural assistance grant. For information about state financial assistance contact Communities Services on 1800 173 349. For information about federal financial assistance contact Centrelink on 180 22 66.
DEEDI advise the following:
- Business owners should alert financial institutions that your business has been impacted by the flood; inform the ATO on 13 28 66 or discuss your submission of a flood reasonable estimate form with OBT if your records have been destroyed; contact suppliers and customers to let them know when you might be operating again, and understand your legal obligations to employees should retrenchments be necessary.
- Employees who have lost a job or are looking for employment can access appropriate assistance from the worker assistance help line on 1800 035 749.
- Intensive livestock business operators (e.g. cattle and sheep feedlotting, dairying and pig farming) must take all reasonable and practical measures to prevent contamination to land and water courses.
- Before engaging trades to assist in repairing your premises, check all credentials and obtain written quotes and referees for their work. Please note that rules giving consumers a ten day cooling off period for work costing more than $100 do not apply when emergency repairs are needed after a natural disaster.
- As you clear debris, be alert for signs of diseases or pests (e.g. sick animals or unusual pests or diseases on plants). As part of your damage assessment, note the condition of plants and animals and monitor changes to their condition over time. Address any immediate animal welfare needs.
- Be alert to scams that take advantage of natural disasters to target homeowners and small businesses. If you don’t think a collector is bearing appropriate identification nor is genuine, do not donate.
At OBT we’re on hand to answer any questions or concerns you may have about your particular circumstance so please call us on 07 3408 3444 for assistance.