Crisis backing for business


MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire has stepped in to assist small business by developing a support package to “help the local community through the unprecedented effects of COVID-19”.

The package includes a business concierge service, supporting local business campaign, advocacy to state and federal departments, fast tracking of approvals and compliance matters, temporary cessation of fees and charges, support for local contractors and rate and rent relief options for those in council properties.

The package comes a week after the Committee for Mornington Peninsula began lobbying the shire to provide a “support package for local business” as the coronavirus disaster hits their bottom lines.

At the same time, Mornington Chamber of Commerce, representing Main Street traders, pleaded with all levels of government, financial institutions – and especially landlords – to show leniency on loan repayments and rents in the wake of plummeting trade.

Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Cr Sam Hearn said the COVID-19 pandemic was having a major impact on many local businesses. “While council acknowledges that the predominant source of funding and support for the economy is at the state and federal level, there are many actions we can take to support our businesses in light of the fast-changing environment and impacts at a local level,” he said.

“Some of these support measures will immediately put up to $500,000 back into the business community. Others, such as speeding up payments to our suppliers and contractors, will inject money into the local economy sooner, assisting with the cash flow, general business liquidity and the ability to keep people employed.”

The mayor said the package “strikes the right balance of fairness, responsibility, relief and compassion so that we can get through these unprecedented challenges together.”

Committee for Mornington Peninsula chairman and former small business minister Bruce Billson said his committee was “really positive about what the shire is doing”.

“It really shows that our thinking is aligned,” he said.

“We will continue to contribute to the shire’s thinking on how to support local business.”

Mr Billson said discussions with the mayor and CEO John Baker had been “encouraging”.

Key pillars of this package include:

A central contact point at the shire to assist businesses navigate through information, permit and registration processes. Call 5950 1000 or 1300 850 600 or email

A website to keep businesses up to date on government initiatives and grants and online business resources. See An upcoming virtual business forum will hear people’s views on how the shire can do more and advocate better on businesses’ behalf.

A Support your Local Business campaign to back local businesses and promote innovation among businesses. The council will buy goods and services locally; tender criteria will give a 30 per cent weighting to the local economy.

More flexible planning approvals from the state government to assist existing businesses to diversify; fast track change-of-use applications to four business days.

Reimbursement of half of food and health premises registrations and, in the 2020-21 Budget process, seek to review, extend, defer or waive commercial and cost recovery fees and permits for footpath trading permits, caravan park, food and health premise registration, business directional signage and commission fee for bookings via Dromana Visitor Information Centre.

Expedite payments to suppliers and contractors wherever possible.

Rates for the 2020-21 financial year are not due until 10 February 2021. The shire will make its rates hardship policy available to the commercial sector. It has stopped applying interest to outstanding debts until at least 30 June 2020.

Commercial tenants will be offered a 50 per cent discount on rental payments 16 March 2020-1 October 2020.

The shire will explore ways to accelerate programmed maintenance and other works at facilities closed to comply with public health directions.

Details: or call 5950 1000 or 1300 850 600.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 31 March 2020


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