Mr Payton had been hoping to investigate concessional loans as a form of support for his business, which wasn’t physically hit by the bushfires but suffered from loss of trade.
There are a range of grant and loan options available to bushfire-affected companies across the country at a federal and state level.
‘At the moment it’s a bit of a mess, it’s a bit all over the place … it really isn’t working and people are totally confused.’
Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia chief executive Peter Strong
Business groups have praised the initiatives but slammed the process as “a mess” because owners are confused about where to apply for assistance.
“At the moment it’s a bit of a mess, it’s a bit all over the place … it really isn’t working and people are totally confused,” Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia chief executive Peter Strong said.
The National Bushfire Recovery Agency said the loans, which make available up to $500,000 for eligible businesses and come with a two-year interest-free period and low interest rates thereafter, are already taking applications in Queensland and New South Wales.
“The Australian government is continuing to work with Victoria and South Australia to ensure timely activation of consistent loan products in these states,” a spokesperson said.
Bushfire Recovery Victoria said information about the eligibility and applications process would be available in the next week as the state worked with the Commonwealth on launching applications.
“We understand that small business owners are looking for clarity and certainty right now,” a spokesperson said.
A separate grants program, which offers up to $50,000 for affected businesses, is up and running in Victoria.
Mr Payton said many businesses in his region had been looking for quick, easy-to-understand information, having assumed all support measures would be available once announced.
“What’s needed is something immediate,” he said.
Mr Strong said confusion over entitlements showed there needed to be a more consistent approach for future disasters.
Emma is the small business reporter for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald based in Melbourne.