The Victorian State Government have had another brain fart. Fair dinkum, who comes up with this dribble? Chairman Dan has announced the Victorian Hospitality Business Grant Program. It promises eligible businesses a one-off payment of $25,000 to support continued business operation. An additional $5,000 is available to businesses with more than one premises in Metropolitan Melbourne or Mitchell Shire. There is a further $20,000 grant for CBD and fringe locations.

Finally, a serious investment into our failing industry. I jumped to apply.

I got to the eligibility criteria and 'failed' at question 6. "My business had an annual payroll of $3 million and up to $10 million in 2019/2020 YES OR NO?" N.B. Q4 of FY19/20 was COVID-19 impaired.

Let me get this right. My Payroll has to be greater than $3m and less than $10m to qualify? That means my annual turnover is somewhere between $7.5 million and $40 million! How many Pubs, Bars, Restaurants and Cafes are in this league? It also means that, should I qualify, I am already paying 4.85% Payroll tax to the Victorian Government which represents between $145,500 - $485,000 annually.

This is not a business grant, it is a nominal refund on the most regressive of state based taxes for large, but not too large, hospitality groups. Payroll tax was born as a tax on wealthy employers who remained at home in WWII. It was used to fund 5 Shillings per week to war widows with more than one dependent. A noble origin. In the 70's, the federal government gave it to the states and now it just contributes to general revenue.

It is abhorrent for the Victorian Government to dress up a nominal tax refund as a grant to support the Hospitality Industry. Payroll Tax itself should be on the chopping block 'holus bolus'. The whole concept of taxing employment, seems farcical at the best of times, let alone in a post COVID world. Giving a little bit back to a few large employers, is nothing short of a joke.

I don't know who comes up with this rubbish, but I have had a gut full.

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