Businesses cry out for COVID rent relief extension
Businesses cry out for COVID rent relief extension

Economic cliff to hit way before JobKeeper ends

ANOTHER economic cliff is rapidly approaching for businesses across Queensland - and it will arrive long before the JobKeeper tap runs dry.

Business operators from Cairns to Caloundra are dreading the end of the month when emergency rent relief measures will end.

The expiration date will be welcomed by many landlords but struggling tenants face the prospect of being unable to meet rental obligations.

Gilligan's Backpackers Hotel & Resort CEO Vanessa Schap said the major Cairns hospitality business was operating at a fraction of its ordinary trade.

Rent relief measures are due to expire at the end of September in Queensland. PICTURE: ISTOCK
Rent relief measures are due to expire at the end of September in Queensland. PICTURE: ISTOCK

 

"Unlike Victoria, ACT and NSW, the Queensland Government has omitted including a 'reasonable recovery period' in its Retail Shop Leases and Other Commercial Leases (COVID-19 Emergency Response) Regulation 2020," she said.

"What this means is that after September 30, 2020, all tenants are expected to return to paying full rent plus repayments of any deferred rent during the past six months.

"This is premature and will inevitably create an economic cliff resulting in massive amounts of investment put on hold, huge staff retrenchments, and businesses closing for good."

Ms Schap called for the relief period to be extended to the end of March 2021.

Cairns locals enjoying the newly reopened nightclubs and bars after COVID-19 lockdown. Josh Phillips, Jack Blakey, Trish Lee and TJ Mason at Gilligan's. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN
Cairns locals enjoying the newly reopened nightclubs and bars after COVID-19 lockdown. Josh Phillips, Jack Blakey, Trish Lee and TJ Mason at Gilligan's. PICTURE: STEWART McLEAN

Gilligan's is one of the largest backpacker resorts in the southern hemisphere with 750 beds, a 2085-capacity venue including a travel and jobs business, restaurant and multiple bars.

Business fell 95 per cent when COVID-19 hit and remains down more than 50 per cent.

Ms Schap said having to pay deferred rent and full rental payments from October was untenable.

"The lack of clarity by the federal government and Queensland government on what happens after September 30 is leaving tenants and landlords facing unnecessary and expensive conflict resolution, and tenants being at the behest of landlords not prepared to negotiate," she said.

Cairns MP Michael Healy said the issue was on the National Cabinet agenda.

"I'd make the assumption there would be a review and there will be an announcement about this," he said.

National Cabinet will next meet on September 18.

Originally published as Economic cliff to hit way before JobKeeper ends