Townsville Bulletin



A BUSINESS recovery is in sight as Australia emerges from the worst of the pandemic but there are still some hurdles on the path back to normality.

Business owners and leaders are being urged to prepare for localised lockdowns and friction between states however there is confidence in a brighter future.

Business Australia chief executive Daniel Hunter said there was optimism that once Australia reopened, business will bounce back strongly.

“Some industries will take longer than others, particular­ly those that rely on internatio­nal travel but generally there is a good feeling among business owners that the countdown to Christmas will be a good one, provided those cities in lockdown reopen shortly,” Mr Hunter said.

“The overseas model has shown that customers are loyal and will return to their favourite local businesses – but that doesn’t mean that business owners can get complacent.

“They’ll have to work extra hard on their customer service because if the lockdowns have taught us anything, it’s that customers don’t mind searching for

S Sole l t traders d and d other h selflf employed people can consider federal government disaster payments of $750 a week – visit a l t e r - nate ways to find a product.”

Small Business Australia executive director Bill Lang said id there would be tentative steps ps forward but businesses should

l not over-commit “given how quickly things can revert to dissaster mode”.

Mr Lang said recovery would ld vary by location, by industry “and nd by the resources the business has as available to still be operating ng when the customers come back”. ”.

“For example, the WA and nd Queensland tourism industries es will both continue to suffer for as long as internatio­nal travel and nd visitors are locked out of the he country but more importantl­y as long as their state government­s ts lock out the rest of Australia.”

Business owners can search their state’s business support website for details of grants and other Covid-19 assistance.

Some states offered no certainty and little confidence to businesses, Mr Lang said. He said government loan assistance such as the SME Recovery Loans Scheme was not being accessed because “business owners do not want to borrow money unless they are confident they can pay it back”. A potential solution, Mr Lang said, was a similar approach to Britain with revenuecon­tingent loans that need to be repaid only once a business’s revenue reached a certain level. Overseas businesses in countries with higher vaccinatio­n rates than Australia are shutting down if three employees test positive, while other countries such are opening as Norway, up dramatical­ly which dw has – dropped all restrictio­ns despite having only 67 per cent of its people fully vaccinated.

Chris Maher, senior vaccine adviser to UNICEF Australia, said he could see workplaceb­ased vaccinatio­n becoming more common. “This makes a great deal of sense,” he said. “Clearly, for any business, having a highly vaccinated workforce reduces the risk that they might s u f f e r

“The informatio­n is not always ways up to date but it’s the most up-to-date -to-date informatio­n you can get,” Small mall Business Australia’s Bill Lang g says.

People can also speak with h their accountant or business coach, ch, as national accounting bodies are keeping their members up to date on all the developmen­ts. ts. major disruption­s from further outbreaks. And it demonstrat­es good corporate responsibi­lity.”

Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said lockdowns were originally intended to give Australia time to prepare to live with the virus, and could not go on forever.

“At 80 per cent fully vaccinated, Australian­s should be free from domestic restrictio­ns, with hospitalit­y, retail and manufactur­ing back to 100 per cent capacity,” she said. “The longer we delay planning to reopen and reunite, the bigger the risk to our internatio­nal reputation as a good place to do business, invest, visit and create jobs. jobs.”

THE lockdowns have accelerate­d ecommerce growth. And ebay has provided a lifeline to thousands of Australian retailers looking to keep their businesses operating and buyers looking for the things they need.

But it is not sustainabl­e. Online businesses have been winners but there are too many losers. Covid hit our retail and hospitalit­y sectors hard.

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and of ebay. Most of the 40,000 Australian retailers we work with have physical stores. We need a healthy retail sector, not just an online retail sector.

Vaccines will enable these businesses to operate the way they need to for longterm success. While we’re making good progress on vaccinatio­n rates, we have learned the cost of complacenc­y. We need to move forward, and the best way to do so safely is by everyone (who can) getting vaccinated.

As Australia inches closer to opening up, I am looking forward to some normality. The simple things – like seeing my parents, getting a haircut, and going to the shops. ebay is driven by our purpose of economical­ly empowering people and creating a level playing field for everyone.

Lockdowns have turbocharg­ed the growth of e-commerce but the level of change and adaptation isn’t sustainabl­e. This is why Australia cannot afford to lose momentum in its vaccine rollout.

Jab rates need to continue to climb for small businesses to survive.

 ?? ?? Getting back to business (main); Small Business Australia boss Bill Lang (inset left); and BCA chief Jennifer Westacott (inset below).
Getting back to business (main); Small Business Australia boss Bill Lang (inset left); and BCA chief Jennifer Westacott (inset below).
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