Australia’s leading retail body has welcomed the reintroduction of the Small Business Rental Benefit Scheme in Victoria, following a similar move in NSW last week. The Victorian commercial lease exemption scheme was re-introduced over the weekend, meaning companies with $10 million in annual sales will have until March 15 again to gain lease negotiation rights.
The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said measures like the Victoria Plan were necessary for small and medium enterprises (SMBs) to survive Omicron’s continued risk and associated supply chain costs and staff shortages.
ARA chief executive Paul Zahra said given Omicron’s massive impact, he hoped it would expand to small businesses in every state and territory as before, with a revenue threshold of up to $50 million. In all other jurisdictions in Australia, the Small Business Rent Benefit Scheme expires in 2021, with the exception of the Northern Territory, which has never had an official timetable.
Instead, top-tier small business tenants were encouraged to negotiate in good faith with landlords. It is clear that Omicron’s impact will continue and that targeted support packages from governments will be needed to support small businesses in this unprecedented situation.