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Melbourne Tradesman ineligible for JobKeeper because of his daughter’s death

A grieving father is struggling to keep his business afloat after the death of his teenage daughter left him ineligible for JobKeeper payments.

Tradesman Peter Coll shut down his roofing business in Melbourne last year as he grieved the death of his daughter Claudia, 18, who lost her battle with cystic fibrosis.

He eventually reopened the business and it quickly grew from a solo operation as he added five employees to cope with demand.

He has kept those staff on the payroll despite going from up to 28 jobs a week to just six, and is now struggling to make ends meet amid Victoria’s stage four restrictions.

Collis recently discovered his operation doesn’t qualify for JobKeeper because business owners must prove their revenue has dropped 30 per cent compared to this time last year.

But because of his decision to shut up shop in 2019 to grieve his daughter, his business is actually making more money in 2020.

Mr Coll said he isn’t the kind of person to ask for help, but he’s worried about his staff. 

‘They’re stressed about their jobs, they’ve got things they have to pay as well. One of my employees, an apprentice, with his rent and everything, he’s only just got enough money to live,’ he told the Age.

‘If I have to reduce his pay, he can’t survive.’

‘I’m hoping this is something the government has overlooked and that they can possibly fix it,’ he said. 

He also revealed the situation has been having an impact on his mental health.

A spokesperson for the Australian Tax Office told The Age they don’t comment on specific cases due to privacy concerns.

Businesses are being urged to contact tax professionals or use the ATO’s dedicated helpline to address any concerns or enquiries about the JobKeeper payment.  

Claudia died in May 2019 after she was struck down by the bacterial infection Burkholderia cepacia.

The 18-year-old had undergone a lung transplant to try and help stop the onset of immunodeficiency and pneumonia.

But her body was unable to fight off the bug and she died in hospital a month later. 

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