Northern Beaches MP Jason Falinski has called on the Local and State Government to declare the Northern Beaches a disaster zone for the period of the COVID-19 lockdown in order to release Commonwealth funds to support local businesses.

Many Northern Beaches businesses were taken by surprise when the lockdown was announced, losing thousands of dollars in perishable stock. Mr Falinski says the declaration would enable the Commonwealth to co-fund relief packages for businesses that have lost stock.

Jason Falinski

Jason Falinski

Federal Member for Mackellar Jason Falinski says he has spoken with the Prime Minister’s office who have agreed in principle to the proposal to declare the Northern Beaches a disaster area for the period of the COVID-19 lockdown.

“The declaration of a disaster zone will release Commonwealth funds to co-fund relief for businesses on the Northern Beaches, especially those who lost stock during the lockdown. The businesses I’ve spoken to don’t want a hand out, they want a hand up. They want to be able to trade their way out of the hole.

“I’ve spoken to businesses that are down hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for that peak trading period and some that lost more than $100k in stock. These businesses did the right thing by the community by continuing to employ and keep their people on and pay their people during the lockdown. All of us as a community should pay them back, because we are the ones who closed them down so we could be safe.

“I’m sure that local and state governments would agree with me on that and this is one way for them to help us as a community to get back on the strongest path to the strongest recovery.

“It’s a Commonwealth declared hotspot, so we’ve got the mechanism to do what we need to do. In Victoria during the lockdown, there were declared disaster zones in Melbourne. A number of local Councils gave grants to businesses which the Commonwealth made a contribution to,” said Mr Falinski.

Asked if he hoped Council might initiate the process at today’s Council meeting, Mr Falinski said, “There’s nothing stopping local government making this request.”

Rob Stokes MP

Rob Stokes

Member for Pittwater Rob Stokes said in principle he supported collective action to support local businesses.

“Nothing has been put to the State yet but it’s great to see Jason arguing so strongly for businesses that have been heavily impacted by the decisions of government,” said Mr Stokes.

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