Naren King inside the enchanted crystal cave, the world's largest crystal
Naren King inside the enchanted crystal cave, the world's largest crystal

Local businesses ‘soldier on’ thanks to wage subsidies

BUSINESS owners on the Northern Rivers were relieved by the Federal Government’s JobKeeper package.

On Monday the government announced a $130 billion package, paying businesses that qualify $1500 per staff member each fortnight.

Crystal Castle in the Byron Shire closed last Monday, and owner Naren King laid off all casual staffers and stood down most of his permanent employees.

Mr King is one of the largest tourism employers in the shire, with 63 staff on the books before the COVID-19 outbreak.

“It’s been devastating for the team,” he said.

“This government package is a major lifeline for our business.

“It will enable us to be extremely creative and innovative in what work can be done to improve and strengthen the business.”

He said the downtime would allow them to perform “a spring clean” and prepare the business for its reopening party, whenever that may be.

“I’m hoping to find work for the majority of our permanent team,” Mr King said.

“We will continue with our bush regeneration work, keeping separate from each other.

“We can take time to Zen out the place.”

Enspire Living Ballina owner Todd Golding also qualifies for the wage subsidies.

Mr Golding, who employs five staff including himself, said he was considering shutting the business in April.

“We are still soldiering on,” he said.

“The new job keeper package makes a huge difference, it allows me to hold my staff, instead of looking to shut down.

“If you have good staff, the last thing you want to do is lose them.”

Mr Golding is pleased with the federal government, his landlord who has reduced rent, and his bank which has deferred mortgage repayments.

“The only people who really haven’t come to our aid are the electricity companies, state government and council, the silence has been deafening,” he said.

Business NSW Northern Rivers regional manager Jane Laverty has also applauded the federal government.

“It is a historic rescue package reflecting the extraordinary times which we are all living through,” Mrs Laverty said.

“No boss wants to make their staff redundant or cut hours, but sadly that’s been the case across many industries as the coronavirus response measures took hold.

“This will give a level of certainty to business owners and their staff and hopefully keep the economy moving, despite the obstacles.”

To qualify, businesses with a turnover of less than $1 billion must have a reduction in revenue of 30 per cent, and higher-grossing businesses must have a reduction in revenue of 50 per cent.

Businesses must pass the payment on to their staff.


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