On 1 July 2004 the Commonwealth Government closed off 33% of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to fishing. The impact on Commercial Fishermen and Fishery Related Business has been significant.
The Government therefore set up a Business Restructure Assistance Package whereby affected businesses can apply for a one off lump sum payment to assist in overcoming the impact caused by the closures.
Our client was a third generation trawler fisherman. Prior to the closures his business was viable, returning a net profit of between $60,000.00 and $105,000.00 per annum leading up to the closures. Our client intended continuing with the business until retirement. Over the past 20 or so years since leaving school he had only worked in the family fishing business, which he now owns.
He did not have any income protection insurance, life insurance or any superannuation. Without the ability to continue his business he would be forced to tie up his fishing vessel and seek employment on the open labour market as a middle-aged man with no relevant skills outside of the fishing industry.
Our client decided to make an application to the Government for a restructure grant. We were engaged to make the application on his behalf and determined that our client’s business suffered a 10% loss of gross business income as a result of the closures. After considering all of our client’s circumstances, we determined that he was eligible for a restructure grant of up to $207,000.00 and submitted his application to the Government.
Our client’s restructure options were to use the Government grant to either make capital improvements to his trawler, retire business debt or purchase extra ‘fishing days’ to increase his income levels. Our client’s preferred option was to retire his significant business debts as this would enable our client to improve his overall cash flow position, so that he could re-structure his business operations and continue to operate at a viable level.
After considering the Application, the Government made an offer of $192,000.00 which our client accepted.