Business NSW has found some of the Murray-Riverina region's industries are still reliant on the federal government's JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme and has called for ongoing support in the next budget.
The pandemic emergency measure, which at its peak offered businesses $1500 per fortnight to help retain workers, is due to cease at the end of March.
"In our most recent Business Conditions Survey conducted across NSW, 23 per cent of businesses believed they were at a high risk of failure when supports such as JobKeeper, tax relief, interest waivers and other measures end," Business NSW Murray-Riverina regional manager Anthony McFarlane said.
"This vulnerability will hang over the small business sector for much of the year and will need to be factored into decisions around when and how these measures are withdrawn.
"We support the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry's call to introduce a new program of wage subsidy support for businesses heavily impacted by government restrictions, such as those in the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors."
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Business NSW has put in a submission to the federal budget calling for a subsidy of between $450 and $700 per week per employee if a company's turnover is down between one or two-thirds compared to 2019.
The business organisation's campaign comes as the Australian Taxation Office identified "arts and recreation services" and "transport, postal and warehousing" industries as having the slowest numbers of people exiting JobKeeper.
The national arts and recreation industries still had 31 per cent of its workforce on JobKeeper.
Eastern Riverina Arts executive director Tim Kurylowicz said it had been difficult for many Riverina artists to get on JobKeeper in the first place.
"Whatever the ATO is saying, they are massively under-reporting the number of people and the impact on the arts and the reason is a very large proportion of artists in regional situations especially, never qualified for JobKeeper in the first place," he said.
"People who work for local government in local galleries and theatres, a lot of those staff were not covered and an awful lot of artists do so as a freelancer on top of their regular work and didn't qualify either.
"The arts will struggle, in particular those parts connected to events and live performances, are going to struggle for probably another year until we are fully vaccinated as a nation."
Mr McFarlane said some industries in the Murray-Riverina region were still struggling, such as recreation and tourism, while others such as retail were recovering off the back of strong Christmas sales.
Ron Finemore Transport managing director Mark Parry, whose firm was not using JobKeeper, said other regional trucking companies had not experienced the downturn that the ATO had found in the wider transport industry.
"The issue seems to be a shortage of drivers, not the fact that there's drivers around looking for work and there's no work to give them," he said.
"In our organisation today we could take 60 drivers tomorrow, across the various locations including Wagga, Wodonga, Orange, the regional areas.
"Whether that's the same in the cities I don't know, but I was in a Murray Regional Development Group hook up last week, which had a number of transport companies, and everybody was saying the same thing: there is work available and people need skilled labour."
Australian Trucking Association board member Geoff Crouch said he "could only agree" with Mr Parry and "we can't get enough people".
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has previously ruled out extending JobKeeper and said the new figures, including a 60 per cent drop in NSW workers on the subsidy over three months, were "encouraging".