Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Joe Smith.
Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Joe Smith.

How JobKeeper is stimulating Gladstone trade

JOBKEEPER payments have kept many Gladstone businesses afloat through the pandemic following the government announcement of changes to the stimulus measures.

Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry GCCI president Joe Smith said the news payments will be scaled back after September was generally welcomed by the chamber, as it continues the vital financial stimulus.

Mr Smith said the word from businesses locally was that trade had picked up, which is reflected in todays ABS statistics on retail turnover increasing by 2.4 per-cent in June.

The changes announced yesterday from September 28 include the $1500 per fortnight JobKeeper payment reduced to $1200 for employees working 20 hours plus, and the part time payment reduced to $750 a fortnight for those working less than 20 hours per week.

From January 4, those payments will be further scaled back to $1000 and $650, with a continuation in the criteria of a reduction in turnover of more than 30 per-cent for businesses.

“We were lobbying to get JobKeeper extended, especially for some businesses that are going to be effected in the longer term,” Mr Smith said.

“So it was good to see the term extended.”

The concern for businesses, Mr Smith said, was in the reduction to full time payments.

“We are a little bit concerned about that because the businesses who are going to meet the criteria are going to be in the industries that are still mostly effected by the virus, which would be tourism, hospitality, some retailers, and the arts,” he said.

“If those people are in full time jobs its going to create additional pressure on those businesses and those industries.

“We would have liked that amount stay up at the $1500 per fortnight.”

Changes to part-time JobKeeper payments, scaled back to $750 a fortnight, were needed Mr Smith said.

“We do understand that there was a need to change those payments for part time workers, potentially paying people $750 a week who weren’t earning that before,” he said.

“We think that was a stimulus measure more so to try and keep people spending.”

Chamber members have widely welcomed the payments.

“The feedback we have been getting from most members is that they are definitely have appreciated that assistance from the Jobkeeper scheme,” he said.

“It definitely has assisted them in keeping employees on the books and it has given their businesses a little bit of a safety net, which has allowed them to continue operations as best as they could.

“We definitely think that it has worked well and the feedback we are getting from other businesses, other than hospitality, tourism, some retailers and the arts, is that things seem to be picking up a bit.”

Mr Smith said the chamber would continue to call for targeted assistance for tourism, hospitality, the arts and events industries to ensure financial sustainability.

“Those are industries that we recognise are going to need ongoing assistance locally,” he said.