Small business Regional Victoria COVID-19 Sole traders

Sole traders left out in the cold

24 August 2020

State government support for small businesses grappling with the economic pressures of coronavirus restrictions does not extend to sole traders.

Member for Euroa and Deputy Leader of The Nationals Steph Ryan is calling on Daniel Andrews to address the gap in support.

“It is inequitable and unjust that sole traders have been denied access to the Victorian Business Support Fund by the Andrews Government because they don’t employ staff other than themselves,” Ms Ryan said.

“Like other businesses, sole traders across our region are struggling with the brutal restrictions that have been imposed. It defies belief that Daniel Andrews has deemed them ineligible to receive support when they also have outgoings and are fighting to keep their heads above water.”

The Stay at Home directions coupled with Restricted Activity directions for regional Victoria have seen many sole traders stranded yet denied access to emergency cash flow.

Seymour beautician Laurice Doyle has worked hard to establish an exclusive day spa. She now finds herself struggling to manage financial commitments with no business support.

Owner of Totally Fit Gym Wallan, Kieran Atkin, has seen his family’s financial position completely upended by the coronavirus lockdowns.  His family have used the deposit they had saved for a house to get through the last few months.  Mr Atkin’s estimate of financial loss is huge, as is the emotional toll.  Despite having run a successful business, he is not eligible for state government assistance.

“I have been contacted by travel agents, beauticians and specialist workers in education who are all sole traders and all struggling without income and without financial support,” said Ms Ryan.

“The Premier must change the criteria to reduce some of the stress and financial pressure faced by sole traders.”

When asked why the Andrews Government was not offering support for sole traders, Treasurer Tim Pallas this week said it was because “many of them don’t actually have a tax-paying relationship with the state”.

Ms Ryan described Labor’s position as cruel, saying the Andrews Government failed to recognise the important contribution sole traders made to the Victorian economy.

A parliamentary e-petition sponsored by The Nationals Member for Eastern Victoria Region, Melina Bath, has been launched calling on Daniel Andrews to overturn the decision to exclude sole traders from the Victorian Business Support fund. 

Ms Bath raised the matter in Parliament this week when launching the petition.

“What has become apparent is Daniel Andrews’ decision to deny Victorian sole traders’ access to COVID-19 business support is disproportionately disadvantaging women and families,” Ms Bath said.

“Troublingly, the stories are all similar; each is juggling family, work and business financial commitments and their ability to generate income has been taken away due to no fault of their own.

“During the first COVID-19 upsurge ABS workforce data detailed the significant impact the pandemic is having on women and jobs and now we have the Andrews Government further disadvantaging working women during the second wave.”

Ms Ryan said small business was the backbone of communities across the Euroa electorate.

“The Andrews Labor Government must immediately extend the Victoria’s Business Support Program and provide COVID-19 support to include sole traders,” she said.

The e-petition is available at:

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