Keeping business afloat during the pandemic

Yesterday, Senator Deborah O’Neill spoke on ABC local radio with host Scott Levi and was asked the question, “How does the Government strike the balance between keeping people afloat and managing the purse strings?”

21 July 2021


THE Government has announced that it will provide COVID-19 disaster payments opposed to JobKeeper, yet these payments do not measure up to the support previously given. Not surprisingly, the Morrison Government is spending money like a drunken sailor on shore leave on advertising to encourage people to get the jab when vaccines are still not sufficiently available.


It is time the Morrison Government took ownership of its financial support and vaccine rollout debacle and realised that people are hurting financially and need to be protected. Had Scott Morrison committed the country to multiple vaccine supplies when they were being manufactured and offered, ensuring Australian’s were vaccinated as promised by the end of March 2021, then the current lockdown crisis may well have been avoided.


A very significant local employer has described the Government's disaster payment offer as a “debacle”.


“It is a crisis that needs to be managed in this country and it needs the proper leadership,” Senator O’Neill said.


Under the current disaster payment package to businesses they receive less than previously per employee as they did with JobKeeper. And when you’re talking money, and it is less money, it can make the difference of keeping someone employed.


In the middle of the current COVID-19 crisis, the Morrison Government is attempting to back pedal because they don’t want to admit that they’d made a mistake by getting rid of JobKeeper. So, what was the Morrison solution? To come up with ‘Anything Other than JobKeeper’, which has been described by local business leaders as a ‘debacle.’


Scott Morrison didn't want to give Australian taxpayers their money back in the COVID crisis at Easter last year.


When long queues started to emerge at Centrelink Morrison called an emergency recall of Parliament, and then took up Labor’s idea of JobKeeper - which was all about keeping employers and employees connected.


“If you've got one to four employees, you know how much the job that you (and those that work in your business) means to those families. In small  businesses, owners keep their people really close and look after them, because they need them to come back,” said Senator O’Neill.


Scott Morrison has failed at every turn, and it would appear that local Member for Robertson Lucy Wicks has failed to communicate to him the reality of what this lockdown means to the Central Coast and his failure to actually give JobKeeper; what lockdown is doing to our local tradies, our local small businesses, our sole traders, and even some of our bigger employers like manufacturers.


“I haven't spoken directly with Borg up on the mountain – but they're one of our headline businesses around the area, and sadly they're going to be impacted by a lockdown in construction. The whole thing's a mess,” said Senator O’Neill.


COVID had a very significant impact on the Central Coast in March last year when revenue loss dropped by 23% in the first two weeks. It then took another six weeks to hit a drop of 48%.


The Morrison Government knew (and this is what should be informing their decision making) that in June, in the first two weeks of this current lockdown for New South Wales, there was a 45% loss of revenue with small businesses across the Coast.


Yet, despite the Central Coast’s financial pain, the Federal Government hasn’t stepped forward with the support that was needed.


The Morrison Government’s mantra that we’re on the way to business recovery is a furphy. Business and economic recovery was dependent upon getting the nation vaccinated and Scott Morrison has failed dismally in achieving his most important job. And now we have a more explosive form of the virus, with harsher lockdowns, and the Morrison Government believes that it's okay to offer less income support to people.


Scott Morrison has failed the two jobs that he needed to undertake to protect Australians from COVID-19.


Scott Morrison was offered the Pfizer vaccine in June 2020 and he just dismissed it.


Scott Morrison was supposed to get quarantine in order to make sure that there wasn't leakage happening out of hotel quarantine. He failed at this and wouldn’t heed expert advice to set up purpose-built quarantine facilities. The States took over because Mr Morrison didn't want to do that job and now he's blaming them because he failed to give Australians the proper quarantine structure that was needed.


And what about the Berejiklian Government?


There is no doubt that the current lockdown has occurred because the Morrison Government’s failure to act in a timely manner and its continued arrogance, which is why businesses are suffering. Yet, blame must also be attributed to the NSW State Government.


The Berejiklian Government, who like to talk-the-talk all the time about how they're all for small business, have not been there for the Central Coast. Small business on the Coast know the Liberal Party are not their friends, because the Berejiklian Government simply don't understand the scale of debt that most small businesses are operating under. $600, $1,500 in support is not going to cut it.


The deal that NSW has done with the Federal Government to arbitrarily determine that $50 million as your turnover is the number at which any support cuts out, which means that there are thousands of jobs in big businesses, like car sales businesses across the Coast, who employ thousands of people, are now hurting.


These businesses employ thousands of people, from car detailers to electricians, to salespersons, to office workers, to spare parts and management staff.  All of them would be very big businesses, but won’t qualify for support.


“I suspect with how much it costs to purchase a new car these days, that most of them would be turning over more than $50 million,” Senator O’Neill said.


“They have been arbitrarily carved out.


“So, if it's small business, medium business or big business, this Government, because of its arrogance and hubris, is absolutely failing to respond to the reality of people on the ground, who are just trying to keep it together.


“JobKeeper worked, it kept things connected.”


Small business paying the price for vaccine debacle


There are more than 575,000 small businesses across Greater Sydney and surrounding local government areas which are staring down economic uncertainty as a result of the latest lockdown to face the country.


More than 18 months after COVID first hit Australia Scott Morrison’s failure to secure enough vaccines for our population and his refusal to build fit for purpose quarantine facilities are crippling businesses across New South Wales.


Mr Morrison must provide a lifeline for small business owners. And he must do it without delay. A lifeline that is equal to JobKeeper!


Hard working Australians who have poured their hearts and dollars into running their businesses are now facing a diabolical situation, losing money and confidence everyday this lockdown continues.


The Morrison Government needs to urgently offer a small business survival package that at the very least includes:


  • Rental support;


  • Support to retain staff so they can re-open easily after lockdown;


  • Debt relief to help small businesses avoid a debt trap


This lockdown is a direct result of the Morrison Government’s failure to roll out the vaccine and to have national quarantine facilities. The Government must offer these businesses more than platitudes.

Grapevine News Online

Central Coast NSW

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