COVID-19
response

COVID-19 updates for members

Photographer: Paul Hanaoka

Member updates

The COVID-19 pandemic, also known as coronavirus, is having a worldwide impact on businesses and individuals and the Australian Institute of Architects is fully committed to supporting its members during this crisis.

We appreciate that COVID-19 will be a source of concern for many, from both a health and a financial perspective.

This page will continue to be updated with important information to assist members.

Institute updates

  • If your business, workload or employment opportunities have been impacted as a result of COVID-19, we will provide 50% off our membership fees up to September 2020. To notify us that you would like to take the 50% discount for the April – June quarter, please complete this form by Friday 17 April.
  • All in-person Australian Institute of Architects events planned from now until 29 May 2020 will be either postponed or held electronically. This includes CPD events, education courses, member events, Chapter Council meetings and other Committee meetings.

Key Government updates

  • Victorian members: current stage 4 lockdown restrictions (August 2020) may apply to your work. Read all the latest information on the Victorian Government website.
  • The Australian Government has released details of a health and economic support package.
  • The Federal Industry Minister met with business representatives to discuss supply chain impacts of the coronavirus, including on the building and construction industries.
  • The Australian Banking Association announces Small Business Relief Package.

Government support available to our members

Support for business

JobKeeper Payments

  • On 30 March, the Government announced the $130 billion JobKeeper Payment to help keep Australians in jobs as we deal with the significant economic impact from the Coronavirus.
  • The JobKeeper Payment is a temporary scheme open to businesses impacted by the Coronavirus. The JobKeeper Payment will also be available to the self-employed.
  • The Government will provide $1,500 per fortnight per employee for up to 6 months.
  • Eligible businesses need to apply for the subsidy directly with the ATO. Further information is available at this Treasury Fact Sheet.

 

Economic stimulus package

The Commonwealth Government has released new economic stimulus and support packages, targeted at businesses.

The support packages include:

  • The Government is providing up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium-sized businesses that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000. These payments will help businesses with their cash flow so they can keep operating, pay their rent, electricity and other bills and retain staff.  For more information, see the Australian Government Treasury website.
  • The existing instant asset tax write off is being extended to businesses with a turnover of up to $500 million and for purchases up to $150,000. This is only available until the end of the current financial year.
  • The Government is also introducing a time-limited 15-month investment incentive (through to 30 June 2021) to support business investment and economic growth by accelerating depreciation deductions. Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct 50 per cent of the cost of an eligible asset on installation.
  • The ATO is also providing administrative relief for some tax obligations for people affected by the coronavirus outbreak on a case-by-case basis.

 

business hotline

The Government’s business hotline will now give more support to small and medium businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Operations at the business.gov.au 13 28 46 contact centre will increase from five days per week to seven days per week, and provide additional hours of support outside standard operating hours for the first month, answering calls from 7am to 11pm AEST.

Supply chain

Flow on effects of the coronavirus on the supply chain have emerged as a potential issue, especially in the building and construction sector.

While some materials can be substituted, others won’t be, and price impacts are likely to emerge as an issue.

The partial resumption of some previously impacted manufacturing in China is assisting the situation however architects do need to check existing contract provisions to better understand how supply chain interruptions will be handled including options for remedying shortfalls and any associated costs.

Federal Industry Minister Karen Andrews met with business representatives to discuss supply chain impacts of the coronavirus, including on the building and construction industries and the Government has left open the door to scaling up its economic stimulus response package.

Security of payments

Supply chain impacts and downturns in economic activity can have an effect in terms of security of payment, especially for builders with potential repercussions for architects. 

Supporting cash flow has been a focus of the Australian Government’s response to date and the Prime Minister has also called on big business to be vigilant in paying small business and suppliers.

Photographer: Charles Deluvio

States and Territories

The State and Territory governments are also providing support for businesses. This includes:

  • A rebate has been announced on the fixed charge for 2019-20 on commercial rates for properties with an AUV below $2 million will be provided, which particularly targets businesses who own their own premises.
  • The Government will provide access to interest free deferrals of payroll tax commencing 1 July 2020 for all businesses up to a payroll threshold of $10 million to significantly ease the cashflow pressures for medium sized businesses.

More information is available on the ACT Government website.

  • $450 million for the waiver of payroll tax for businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million for three months (the rest of 2019-20). This means these businesses will save a quarter of their annual payroll tax bill in 2019-20.
  • $56 million to bring forward the next round of payroll tax cuts by raising the threshold limit to $1 million in 2020-21.
  • More than $250 million to bring forward maintenance on public assets including social housing and crown land fencing.

More information is available on the NSW Government website.

  • The $60 million stimulus package will be divided into two major portions — a $30 million ‘Home Improvement Scheme’ and a $20 million ‘Business Improvement Scheme’.
  • The Northern Territory Government will also deliver a $50 million Small Businesses Survival Fund to help Territory businesses survive the unprecedented economic impacts of the coronavirus outbreak.

More information is available on the NT Government website.

  • A $500 million concessional loan facility will include low-interest loans of up to $250,000 for carry on finance with an initial 12-month interest-free period for businesses to retain staff.
  • If your business has been affected by the coronavirus you can defer paying payroll tax returns until 31 July 2020.
  • Immediate payroll tax refunds of $740 million for COVID-19 affected businesses
  • A payroll tax holiday and deferral until the end of 2020 for eligible businesses
  • All small and medium businesses (payroll up to $6.5M) in Queensland will be eligible for:
    • A two-month refund of payroll tax, giving an average of nearly $9,000 cash
    • A three-month payroll tax holiday, saving an average of $13,360
    • In addition, they will be eligible to defer all payroll tax payments for the rest of 2020.
  • Larger businesses (payroll over $6.5M) affected by COVID-19 will also be eligible for the two-month payroll tax refund and have their deferral extended for all of 2020.
  • Relief for businesses renting government premises.
  • $500 rebate on electricity bills for all Queensland small and medium sized businesses that consume less then 100,000 kilowatt hours. This will be automatically applied to electricity bills.

More information is available on the Queensland Government website.

  • The opening of the third funding round of the Regional Growth Fund has been brought forward to help provide economic stimulus to our regions in the wake of devastating bushfires, drought and ongoing impacts of coronavirus.
  • Applications are now being sought for the $5 million competitive round for projects that will strengthen regional economies and provide tangible social benefits to local communities.

More information is available on the Government of South Australia website.

  • Small to medium businesses with an annual payroll of up to $5 million in Australian wages will be able to apply, based on the immediate impact of the virus on their businesses, to have their payroll tax payments waived for the three months from 31 March to June 2020.
  • $50 million in interest-free loans over three years will be made available to encourage local governments to invest and employ more Tasmanians to upgrade, renovate and to do necessary maintenance to improve tourism assets so that when the visitors come back, the community is are ready.
  • $80,000 assistance for Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to provide advice to businesses on the implications of these workplace issues.

More information is available on the Tasmanian Government website.

  • Current stage 4 lockdown restrictions (August 2020) may apply to your work. Read all the latest information on the Victorian Government website.
  • The Victorian Government will provide full payroll tax refunds for the 2019-20 financial year to small and medium-sized businesses with payroll of less than $3 million. This assistance is a refund, not a loan.
  • The same businesses will also be able to defer any payroll tax for the first three months of the 2020/21 financial year until 1 January 2021.
  • Commercial tenants in government buildings can apply for rent relief and 2020 land tax payments will be deferred for eligible small businesses.
  • The Victorian Government will pay all outstanding supplier invoices within five business days – releasing up to $750 million into the economy earlier.

More information is available on the Business Victoria website.

  • A freeze will be placed on household fees and charges, including electricity, water, motor vehicle charges, the emergency services levy and public transport fares. An allocation of $402 million in the 2020-21 Budget will go towards paying for the freeze.
  • Payroll tax-paying businesses with a payroll between $1 million and $4 million will receive a one-off grant of $17,500.
  • $1 million payroll tax threshold brought forward by six months to July 1, 2020.
  • Small and medium-sized businesses affected by COVID-19 can now apply to defer payment of their 2019-20 payroll tax until 21 July 2020.

More information is available on the WA Government website.

Working from home

Working from home may be an option in some instances however this will not apply for onsite activities.

Relevant workplace regulatory bodies such as WorkSafe and SafeWork are also providing updates on best practice and issuing guidance. It is recommended that you continue to monitor for updates safeworkaustralia.gov.au.

See the working from home resource pack in HR Hub.