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Katherine Business Re-Establishment package outlined to kick start business

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Media Statement - S13/98 Page 1 o f2

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Minister for Regional Development, Territories and I R e l e a s e

9 February 1998 SI 3/98


"The Katherine $10m business re-establishment package is to be administered and distributed by a community trust of five. The funds will be directed exclusively to 'kick start' individual small business and primary producers whose trade was destroyed by the Katherine floods," the Federal Territories Minister, Alex Somlyay, announced today.

The trust will be chaired by former Katherine business identity, Mr Kim Ford, and Mr David Hunt of the Northern Territory Department of Asian Relations, Trade and Industry will be secretary to the Trust.

The other members of the Trust include: Richard Sallis (representing Katherine business), Peter Marks (representing primary producers), Ray McHenry (representing the Commonwealth Government) and Steve Baker (from Westpac, representing private sector donors).

Mr Somlyay and the Northern Territory Deputy Chief Minister and Treasurer, Mike Reed announced following a series of meetings with the business community in Katherine today, that money from the business re-establishment package will begin to flow to local businesses from today.

"The package announced by the Prime Minister last week is funded with equal contributions from the Commonwealth and Territory governments and the private sector," Mr Somlyay said.

The Westpac Bank has agreed to contribute and Mr Somlyay commended them for their leadership of corporate sector support for the trust. The Minister was delighted with the announcement this morning by the Commercial Union Insurance Company of their $ 100,000 contribution to the trust.

The Deputy Chief Minister of Northern Territory Mr Mike Reed said he was very pleased that the 04/06/1998

Media Statement - SI3/98 Page 2 of 2

package has been varied in response to suggestions from the Katherine business community.

"Doubling the grants from $5000to $10,000 has been a positive and useful step. "We have also broadened the eligibility criteria to make it available to as many businesses as possible. I am satisfied that this is a good package for the Katherine business community," Mr Reed said.

"This package has a total small business and jobs focus for the Katherine region. There are some 1,500 employees relying on the 300 business operators and the incalculable spirit of the Katherine region will see them through this crisis. The trust fund will speed up business recovery," said Mr Somlyay and Mr Reed.

The Ministers announced the centrepiece of the package would comprise of a $10,000 grant to a business unit. The small business electricity accounts will not be charged for two months and this will supplement the main payment.

They said business and primary producers in those parts of the Katherine and Daly River systems, which were inundated, will be eligible for the re-establishment package.

"I am grateful for the help and advice of the federal member for the Northern Territory, Nick Dondas, Senator Grant Tambling and the Mayor of Katherine Jim Forscutt. They have advised me that financial assistance should go direct to the engine of the economy, small business operators. The money therefore will not be spent on capital works. It will be used to let employers start trading again so their work force can get back on the job," said Mr Somlyay.

Mr Somlyay and Mr Reed said the Natural Disaster Relief arrangements had contributed direct commonwealth funds in excess of $3 lm with the Territory government contributing over $11 m to date. The estimated cost of the damage bill is $130m and could rise. In this case the

contributions of the two governments would increase also.

In addition some $1 lm in concessional loans to homeowners and business under the NDRA arrangements are being processed.

The ADF have had over 1,100 personnel on the clean up in Katherine at an estimated cost of $lm, They have contributed between 12,000-15,000 equivalent man-hours. The people of Katherine gratefully acknowledge the work of their defence force community.

"It is crucial that the experienced Katherine workforce be able to stay in the region to contribute to the recovery which is now under way.

"These people are an inspiration to the nation as they recover their lifestyle. I gave the people of Katherine a commitment that if there are any administrative problems with the re-establishment package then we will fix them quickly through the Trust mechanism," Mr Somlyay said.

Further information: Graeme Hallett (Minister's Advisor) 02-6277 7060


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