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25 May, 2020

Mareeba hotel staff rescued

Staff at a Tablelands hotel are now able to access JobKeeper thanks to some last-minute help from a Queensland Senator.

By Phil Brandel

Mareeba Hotel Staff rescued

Staff at a Tablelands hotel are now able to access JobKeeper thanks to some last-minute help from a Queensland Senator.

The employees at The Anthill Hotel in Mareeba were told that they were not able to access the JobKeeper payment due to some confusion over how the business was set up.

The venue is a joint venture between parent company, Australian Venue Company (AVC), and Coles.

The joint venture is required due to a Queensland liquor licencing regulation that requires bottle shops to be associated with licenced venues.

AVC CEO Paul Waterson said that initially, staff couldn’t access JobKeeper due to the joint venture “It’s based on the turnover of the company, the pub was closed, and the joint venture bottle shop was still operating,” he said

“The pub was making zero sales, but the bottle shop was still making at least 50 percent of its sales.”

The joint venture meant that over 1,400 staff across 81 venues did not meet the 30% revenue decline required to qualify for JobKeeper, despite pub revenue being down almost 100%.

Mr Waterson said that initially, AVC had reached out to the federal government “We wrote to the Treasurer and didn’t hear back, so the staff wrote to Senator Amanda Stoker and she was like a dog with a bone, she followed it up with the Treasurer for us.” He said

“She explained the issue to the Treasurer and after a few weeks, we managed to get it to work.

“I spoke to over a dozen politicians and Senator Stoker was the only one who followed through on behalf of all the workers.”

The announcement was made by the Treasurer on May 15 and effects 85 pubs across Queensland.

Senator Stoker said. “The Federal Treasurer confirmed that an exemption has been granted to allow the hard-working pub staff of AVC to access the JobKeeper payment despite the peculiar Queensland Liquor laws. I’m delighted to see these workers are getting the support they need during this difficult time,” Senator Stoker said.

“When pub workers told me that a quirk of Queensland law would mean over 1,400 pub workers across the state would be out of work and without access to JobKeeper, I went straight to the Treasurer.

“Thanks to the commitment of Paul and his team and the urgency that the Treasurer placed on resolving the issue, we have hopefully ensured that this venue and the jobs it supports will be here for the Mareeba community when restrictions are lifted.”

The employees’ access to JobKeeper will be backdated to the commencement of the program.

Manager of the Anthill Hotel Deb Davis said about 11 staff were unpaid for about 8 weeks “Our excellent CEO made sure we got paid in the end, so thanks to him and the Senator.”

Mr Waterson said that they are hoping to reopen the pub in the not too distant future “We are likely to reopen when we can have 20 people in the restaurant at a time,  JobKeeper will allow us to do that and hopefully we can go back to operating is some normal capacity by mid-July.”



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