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Small business in line for $10,000 grants as part of Queensland recovery plan

Small business grants worth $100 million, $400 million for roadworks and $200 million for community infrastructure has been announced in the first tranche of a Palaszczuk Government economic recovery plan.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said her government wanted to get “shovels in the ground”, restore business confidence and create jobs again as she announced policies across an array of sectors.

The announcements came as new Australian Bureau of Statistics analysis pinpointed the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and Cairns as the state’s job-loss hotspots through the pandemic, with around one in 10 jobs lost since March.

Grants of up to $10,000 will now be available for struggling small business with between one and 20 employees to use to get through the crisis.

The funds can be used for anything including paying bills, buying new equipment, taking sales online, funding marketing or employing experts to help give business advice.

But it comes as a second round of “QRIDA” business loans of up to $250,000 have essentially dried up, despite a further $500 million being announced less than two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, the Premier promised an accelerated roadworks program worth $400 million would create 430 jobs.

Councils will receive $200 million for the Works for Queensland program, which funds beautification works like upgrading playgrounds, swimming pools, community centres, caravan parks, sport and recreation facilities, libraries, water and sewer infrastructure, and waste management facilities.

Tourism businesses, particularly theme parks and animal parks, will be given $50 million to survive and a domestic marketing campaign will encourage Queenslanders to holiday at home.

The CopperString project, due to begin construction next year to link Mt Isa to the national grid at Townsville, received nearly $15 million to encourage investment in the North West Minerals Province.

And more than $11 million will be poured into grants to allow people in cyclone-affected areas to improve their homes in a move welcomed by Master Builders as a shot in the arm for regional builders.

But while industry groups welcomed the pledges, they called for a more extensive economic recovery plan to be detailed.

Master Builders deputy chief executive Paul Bidwell said he was happy to see the commitments, which would save the industry from “falling off a cliff”.

“We sincerely hope that this is the first instalment to kick start our economy,” he said.

Infrastructure Association of Queensland chief executive Priscilla Radice said the pipeline of work would create confidence.

“So we’re very pleased with this first announcement and look forward to the full state recovery plan,” she said.

CCIQ spokesman Jack Baxter called small business cash grants “one step in the right direction in the marathon that’s going to be the recovery from the COVID-19 period”.

Ms Palaszczuk said there would be “further announcements each month as we continue to combat this virus”.

Meanwhile, Treasurer Cameron Dick confirmed the he would hand down a COVID-19 fiscal and economic review in September ahead of the October 31 election.

“This publication will adopt the same standards used for the mid-year and economic review,” he said.

Jessica Marszalek, State Political Editor