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6 Victorian business leaders react to lockdown extension

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra:

“Victorian businesses have been pleading for hope, ambition, certainty and a clear roadmap. What we got was a plan to have a plan. We are on a COVID-19 treadmill and it’s time we got off. This business crisis, mental health crisis, education and staff crisis is all layering on top of each other into a crisis lasagne and we still don’t have any way out. The Victorian Chamber urges the public health team to take on an appreciation and understanding of the business and wider community perspective. We need a plan to get business open again and get those vaccination rates up as a matter of urgency. We need to see ambition to get open, not an ongoing directive to stay home.”

Property Council of Australia Victorian executive director Danni Hunter:

“This is a welcome first step in what we hope will be a phased full reopening of the construction industry which is so important to Victoria’s economy and has enforced strict Covid safety standards throughout the pandemic. However, we are disappointed that a phased return to office is not at all in the government’s thinking and we know this is critical to the revival of Melbourne’s CBD and Victoria’s broader economy. Melbourne has now clocked up 211 days in lockdown and counting. The construction industry is just keeping the lights on, and Melbourne’s CBD has ground to a halt as people have been forced to work from home and many good businesses and their people are simply at breaking point.”

Felicia Mariani is the CEO of the Victorian Tourism Industry Council:

While a road map is needed for exiting Lockdown6.0, Victoria’s visitor economy is on its knees NOW and must be supported to recover.

With industry, VTIC developed a 4-Point Survival Plan to support the sector to 70-80% thresholds and beyond.

The plan calls for –

1. 40% wage subsidy scheme to support businesses in navigating the next several months until vaccination thresholds are achieved;

2. Targeted support to financial year-end for visitor economy businesses that will take longer to reactivate – eg major/business events, and sectors heavily reliant on internationals;

3. Waiver of State Government taxes and fees for eligible businesses;

4. Work with industry to build confidence and re-establish the reputation of Victoria as a destination of choice.

These 4 steps ensure we will have a robust tourism industry as Victoria looks to move toward recovery.

AI Group Victorian head Tim Piper:

“Businesses across the state are disappointed. Many will not come out of this lockdown intact or at all. The worsening mental, economic and physical health of Victorians is being exacerbated. They see no hope being created by government announcements. Let’s get on the front foot. Open vaccination centres around the clock. Ease restrictions in a way that is realistic, attainable, permanent and meaningful. The government should support a nationally consistent ‘health pass’ designed to give new freedoms to the double vaccinated. That approach will supercharge the state’s vaccination rate and help us to open for business and free the community.”

Australian Retailers Association chief executive Paul Zahra:

“The extension of the Victorian lockdown has come as no surprise, with case numbers high and double dose vaccinations still several weeks away from the 70 per cent and 80 per cent marks. Once we reach those vaccination thresholds, we need to see a safe reopening of businesses. Lockdowns are decimating small businesses and are taking significant toll on peoples financial, emotional and mental health which is clearly not sustainable.”

Australian Hotels Association Victorian chief executive Paddy O’Sullivan:

“Victoria’s pubs and hotels are continuing their fight to survive. Ongoing Covid lockdowns demand ongoing business support and crucial to business survival is relief from government fees, charges, rates and taxes. Cash reserves have dried up as publicans face ongoing fixed costs, debts to suppliers and other creditors. And, let’s not ignore the human toll on the 52,000 Victorians who once worked in our vibrant pub industry. Wage support is a must, as is availability to vaccination and mental health support. On behalf of Victoria’s pub industry, AHA is promoting mass vaccination for hospitality staff and our loyal customers in the hope of one day returning to a viable business operation.”

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