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Cost of reopening commitment fail means Queensland SMEs less likely to survive

Every day of ongoing uncertainty and a lack of commitment to a nationally consistent plan to allow Queensland businesses to recover from economic impacts of COVID means businesses are less confident in the market, suffering greater losses and will take longer to recover.

Key points

  • Queensland businesses need to know what compliance measures they will need to meet when the state re-opens so they are able to plan and prepare.
  • The October 1 National Cabinet deadline for a Queensland Government commitment to a nationally consistent plan for re-opening was missed.
  • The longer businesses are uncertain about re-opening dates and conditions, the bigger the economic impact.

It’s a reality hundreds of thousands of small businesses are facing across the state with some telling the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) the longer they wait to be afforded certainty in their ability to get back to business, the less likely they are to recover.

It comes as last Friday’s deadline for Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to commit to a nationally consistent plan for COVID reopening and economic recovery was missed.

CCIQ last week set the deadline for the Queensland Government to commit to a vaccination rate target for the economy to be able to recover, a commitment to a national plan to re-open state borders and some insight into when airports and international borders would re-open following months calling for certainty to allow the economy to get back to business.

CCIQ Policy and Advocacy General Manager Amanda Rohan said Queensland businesses were now among the last in the country without a State Government COVID economic recovery commitment.

“There is a risk the Queensland economy will be left behind when businesses in other states, even locked down states, have some kind of recovery and reopening plan to work towards,” Ms Rohan said.

“Those businesses have some confidence as to what they can expect and work towards, the same confidence Queensland businesses have been desperate for months.

“As part of the plan for reopening businesses need to know what each stage looks like in relation to restrictions, vaccination targets, requirements for businesses on compliance, testing, isolation and contact tracing.

“We are watching on as businesses in other states are given clearly communicated plans including what is required of them, their staff and their customers as conditions develop.

“Queensland businesses and CCIQ have had no consultation from the State Government about a comparable plan for Queensland businesses, who for the past 18 months have been at the front line of managing the costs to the economy.

“Re-opening the state means more to Queensland businesses than knocking down the border closure. There are conditions businesses will have to meet to ensure it happens safely and effectively but they need to know what those are so they can prepare.

“They need plenty of notice of what conditions they need to meet and hopefully the delay in the Queensland Government committing those details means they’re busy getting a plan for business together.”

Business confidence dipped for the first time since the start of the economic crisis in Queensland in 2020, CCIQ June quarterly Pulse survey data shows, and any uncertainty does nothing to support a boost in business or consumer confidence, Ms Rohan says.

“It’s increasingly hard to stay in the race when the finish line keeps moving,” Ms Rohan said.

“There are close to half a million small businesses in Queensland, who employ almost half of all private sector workers in the state and the non-existent COVID recovery deadline puts all those businesses and all those staff at risk.

“For 18 months businesses and chambers across Queensland have been warning us without certainty around the state’s plan out of COVID, many businesses simply would not survive.

“The reality now is even more Queensland businesses will not be able to recover from the COVID economic crisis and the robust small business sector the economy and consumers depend on will be compromised even further.”

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