Bogan Shire mayor calls on more support for small businesses

Bogan Shire mayor Ray Donald is calling on more government support to keep small businesses operating, currently doing it tough in the drought.

The drought through the Murray Darling Basin (MDB) is now the worst on record according to the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).

BOM climatologist David Jones said the drought had now exceeded the Federation Drought, the WWII drought and the Millennium drought in terms of its severity through the MDB.

"Our records only go back 120 years but in terms of the rainfall records it is the most severe," Dr Jones said.

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Cr Donald told the Nyngan Observer he is aware of some businesses in town already expecting a drop in trading as a result of the drought and discussed the flow on effect this would have on the shire.

"A couple of business owners have told me that they look like having a 50 per cent drop in their turnover and trading, that's what they're budgeting for this current financial year compared to last year," he said.

"If they have to cope with that, they no doubt will have to consider putting off staff and then those people have to go somewhere else, so we could loose them and their families."

While Cr Donald supported the recent funding from the federal government's Drought Communities Program which delivered a boost to the local economy by using local resources, businesses, suppliers and workers, he believes more can be done to sustain it.

"Small businesses are the backbone of any real economy and a lot of them depend heavily on the rural industry being profitable to provide the services needed," he said.

"When we used to have the former means of assistance for people in drought, which was the exceptional circumstances interest rates subsidies drought relief, the businesses all said that they got a lot of benefit out of that because people still operated purchasing things, and it kept their small businesses going far better than the current assistance it's providing, which is loans to people that not everybody wants because it's extra debt."

He said the council have advocated to ministers that small businesses should be getting more assistance, but believes the government should stop preparing for the future, and maintain the present.

"A lot of money is going into future funds at the moment federally, and that has some merit, although no government is going to be able to completely proof droughts from occurring like fires and floods.

"It's pointless to provide billions of dollars for the future, if those in the present don't make it through, so supporting the present is just as important."