Jobkeeper and Music Venues

Jobkeeper and Music Venues

(Question Time, 23 March 2020, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

On 24 March 2020, I asked the Treasurer whether the Government would urgently provide a financial support package to music venues which contribute so much to Sydney.

Mr ALEX GREENWICH (Sydney) (15:01): My question is directed to the Treasurer. Given that JobKeeper ends next week and a number of live music and performance venues are going out of business, will the Government urgently provide a financial support package to these venues, which contribute so much to Sydney?

Mr DOMINIC PERROTTET (EppingTreasurer) (15:02): I thank the member for Sydney—the greatest member for Sydney since Joseph Jackson in 1922 to 1927, who was the Nationalist member who became one of the founding fathers of the Liberal Party. Look at the great legacy he would be proud of with the member for Sydney. It has been a while since we were there, but it is great to see the constructive nature of the member for Sydney in working with the Government during this time, and particularly his advocacy for Sydney and the Sydney CBD, because we know—to his point—that JobKeeper finishes in March. Yes, certain industries have been impacted, and we will touch on those but, importantly, from a geographical perspective the Sydney CBD has been significantly impacted. We identified that very early on and the member participated in our Sydney summit when we came together with a lot of businesses locally and, through those discussions, implemented many policies that have had a substantial impact on businesses in the Sydney CBD.

Early on, 52,000 small businesses benefited as we rolled out $10,000 grants and $3,000 recovery grants to 36,000 small businesses, at a total value of $109 million. The member for Sydney is very aware of, and has supported and called for, prior to the budget, an increase in the payroll tax threshold, which we increased to $1.25  million and put the rate down to 4.85 per cent for the next two years, which is the lowest headline rate in the nation. There was also funding through the arts and cultural organisations. Stage one funding was provided for non‑profits in financial distress. Funding was also provided for sector‑specific initiatives to help volunteer, community‑based arts and cultural organisations remain operational with one‑off grants.

As part of the work to bring people back to the CBD, which the member assisted us with, we have had highly successful evenings. I was at Sunset Piazza having dinner with the Lord Mayor as that kicked off. Summer in the Domain unfortunately has been washed out, but it has been deferred. I watched some brave souls the other day getting drenched out there. But it has been deferred to ensure these events continue going forward. As the jobs Minister knows, Great Southern Nights—1,000 gigs at venues—was incredibly successful right across the State. In Sydney, the ArtHouse Hotel, the Chippo Hotel, the Lansdowne Hotel, the Pyrmont Bridge Hotel, the Factory Theatre were engaged in the event.

The Minister has also done work in relation to the 24‑hour economy. Relaxing the lockout laws and getting them out of the way, we have been able to put ourselves and the Sydney CBD in the best position possible. But as I have said, there is more to do. If I look at the businesses on JobKeeper today, there are 7,859 as at December in the arts and recreational services. That is on the higher end compared to other industries. There are 22,341 individuals on JobKeeper from December in the same area, arts and recreational services. Of concern are those occupations that are limited in receiving targeted support post‑March. Around five and a half thousand people are in the category of musicians and entertainers.

The answer to the question is, yes, we are acutely aware of the challenges the industry faces. We have been working very closely with them, just like the other support and grants we have provided over the course of the last year. I have said that the support packages that we will provide in the next 12 months will be different to those provided in the last 12 months. They will be tailored particularly to those areas, as we have ensured that our stimulus is complementary to the Federal Government's so that there is as little crossover as possible. I assure the member that the Government is aware of his concerns. In the near future there will be an announcement to provide further support to the industry. The Government has made the point throughout this entire pandemic that our success will be in keeping as many businesses in business and as many people in jobs during this time. We are regularly monitoring the data. I appreciate the constructive advocacy of the member for Sydney. He will soon see the announcement from the New South Wales Government.

Let's work together to celebrate and protect our great city!