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“Double whammy”: SMEs suffering from flood and pandemic devastation

‘DOUBLE WHAMMY’: Queensland businesses need timely support to recover from combined COVID and flood devastation

Queensland businesses suffering from the compounding impact of the COVID economic crisis, and the recent flooding need timely access to financial and emotional support.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) CEO Heidi Cooper said the flood impact across multiple Queensland regions was off the back of two years of COVID economic and health crisis; and many businesses were already financially and emotionally exhausted.

For some businesses, the disaster risk is not over with ongoing weather impacts in some Queensland regions.

“Queensland businesses and the communities they support are already struggling through the impacts of COVID and are now directly affected during extreme weather events across the state. This has a compounding impact on their operations and staff,” Ms Cooper said.

“The December quarter pulse results reported Queensland business confidence was already low as a result of COVID-19.

“For many businesses, the recent flooding has been a cruel double-whammy.”

Ms Cooper said there were wide-spread direct impacts across agriculture, especially the Lockyer Valley food bowl, exporters, manufacturers and wholesale, including industrial areas flooded in Rocklea and Ipswich, retail and restaurants in direct flooding areas.

More than 340,000 businesses are in the direct and indirectly impacted disaster area in the Southeast Queensland region, across the Brisbane, Ipswich, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast regions, while Gympie up to Maryborough and Toowoomba and the Southern Downs are also affected.

Ms Cooper said businesses had also reported compounding impacts through supply chains and staff mobility issues which were also experienced during COVID.

“We’re hearing heart-warming stories from CCIQ members across that disaster zone from Gympie to the Gold Coast and west, demonstrating the true resilience and commitment of Queensland communities and businesses,” Ms Cooper said.

“CCIQ’s helpline is open for businesses requiring employee assistance support and we are working with our members to better understand what other support they need whether mental health, insurance or direct clean up.

“Now is the time for us all to be supporting Queensland to get back to business.”

Ms Cooper said the speed of assistance availability was paramount.

“During past floods in Queensland, such as those in 2011, directly impacted businesses reported an average damage bill of more than $360,000 and an average loss of earnings of more than $460,000,” she said.

“For that reason, impacted businesses are going to need to see immediate timely support to get them through and significant financial and emotional government assistance now and through recovery.

“While grants and loans can be activated now for small businesses directly impacted during natural disasters, through the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements, what we also need to see is a support package for Queensland businesses which considers the holistic view of the real impacts being felt in the current day, and not as an isolated extreme weather event.

“The priority is to get businesses open and operating and getting support to those directly impacted as soon as possible.

“It’s also essential these businesses and their staff are emotionally supported during this time and we’re calling for government support to make sure this happens.”

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