Victorian Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson says the Morrison Government will do all it can to support Ballarat’s Sovereign Hill which has been forced to temporarily close.
The popular tourist attraction announced on Friday that it was shutting its doors indefinitely due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Senator Henderson acknowledged that Sovereign Hill has been one of the state’s hardest-hit tourism attractions since the outbreak of coronavirus in early January.
Chinese travel bans heavily impacted visitor numbers, a situation further compounded this week by the closure of Australia’s borders to all international arrivals.
While it is not known how long Sovereign Hill will remain closed, Senator Henderson said the Australian Government would work with Sovereign Hill to ensure its survival once the coronavirus crisis had passed.
As part of the Morrison Government’s $17.6 billion economic stimulus plan, Senator Henderson said $1 billion had been put aside to support those sectors, regions and communities which have been disproportionately affected by the economic impacts of coronavirus, including tourism destinations such as Sovereign Hill.
“Sovereign Hill is an iconic tourism destination and is often a must-see stop for thousands of international visitors to Victoria along with the Twelve Apostles and the Great Ocean Road. It contributes $260 million to the Victorian economy,” she said.
“Victoria’s tourism industry is heavily reliant on Chinese visitors who were banned from entering Australia in early February to help prevent the spread of the disease.
“While it is disappointing to see one of the state’s biggest tourism operators temporarily close its doors, the Morrison Government will do all it can to ensure that Sovereign Hill emerges stronger on the other side. “
The government’s targeted stimulus package is designed to ensure that we keep as many Australians in jobs as possible as the world deals with the significant challenges posed by the spread of coronavirus.
“I am working closely with Sovereign Hill to discuss how the Australian Government can help it overcome the challenges it is currently facing.”
Senator Henderson welcomed the announcement by the Australian Banking Association that its members will defer loan repayments for six months for small businesses which need assistance because of the impacts of the coronavirus.
It followed the announcement on Thursday by the Federal Government and the Reserve Bank of Australia to inject a combined $105 billion into the economy to support lending to small and medium sized businesses.
She said the Morrison Government will continue to work closely with the banking industry and our financial regulators to support Australian jobs and businesses during this challenging time.