On March 26, Premier Steven Marshall announced a $650 million Jobs Rescue Package to help industries in South Australia flailing in the wake of coronavirus.

The package includes a $300 million Business and Jobs Support Fund and a $250 million Community and Jobs Support Fund (to assist sporting, arts and recreational organisations).

Payroll tax will be waived for small and medium businesses (with a payroll of less than $4 million) for the next six months, and liquor licensing fees will be scrapped.

“We need to have an ongoing structure of business and industry to resume jobs growth,” the premier said. “We will get through it, but we want to get through it with the best recovery in the world.”

One-off cash payments of $500 will also be given to households where a resident is receiving the Centrelink Jobseeker payment.

The new package takes the SA government’s economic response to $1 billion, following the $350 million infrastructure stimulus package announced on March 11.

The premier has also established an Industry Response and Recovery Council, made up of leaders from key sectors who helped drive the direction of the package. The council will inform the state’s immediate and ongoing response to the crisis. Industries such as retail, construction and housing, tourism, primary industries and hospitality are represented on the 14-member council.

“This is, without question, the greatest economic emergency of our generation and our collective response must be equally as potent,” the premier said in a statement.

“We recognise the enormous economic challenges confronting our key industries, their employers and staff as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the necessary restrictions imposed to limit its spread.

“Now, more than ever, we must work together – utilising our shared expertise and experience – to ensure we protect as many industries, businesses and local jobs as possible.”

The measures will provide some relief for the state’s struggling hospitality industry. But Simon Kardachi, who owns or co-owns 14 restaurants across Adelaide (including Osteria Oggi, Shobosho, Nido and Melt), says the package – in particular the payroll waiver – doesn’t help the venues that have already closed.

“It’s absolutely worthless. They’ve completely missed us again,” he tells Broadsheet.

Kardachi, who has already had to close Shobosho, Maybe Mae, Press and Proof, says the payroll tax waiver (which applies from April to September this year) only counts for those venues still operating. “If we’re not trading it doesn’t exist, because we’re not accumulating payroll tax to be waived.”

By comparison, the Victorian government has promised to refund every dollar of payroll tax paid by small and medium businesses in the last financial year (and waive upcoming payments until the end of June). Kardachi says that’s what’s needed here.

“The only thing that would help us, specifically and directly, is to refund the 2019–20 payroll tax from last July onwards. Exactly what Victoria’s done.

“I’ve spoken to publicans, I’ve spoken to every other restaurateur I know and it’s all the same thing. We need the payroll reimbursement. The only thing we were holding our breaths for was that.

“If we don’t get a cash injection ... if we don’t get a refund of payroll tax – the taxes we proudly pay to employ people in the first place – if that is not reimbursed then most restaurants won’t be able to reopen.”