“In the week that Melbourne becomes the world champion of lengthy lockdowns, the proposed way forward in Victoria’s COVID-19 roadmap is a disappointing and meandering pathway that offers neither real hope nor certainty for thousands of increasingly desperate businesses and their employees. For many businesses the roadmap starts with a stop sign," Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer organisation Ai Group said today.

 

"Reaching the targets outlined for even the mildest of relaxations in restrictions will be many more weeks away, with 80 per cent double vaccinated not anticipated until mid-November.

 

"This roadmap tells us that Melbourne is only just halfway through the current ‘short sharp’ lockdown.

 

"NSW freedoms planned for 70 per cent vaccination rate resemble Victoria at 80 per cent and Victoria now clearly lags NSW which will recover faster.  NSW will undoubtedly become the preferred destination for investment, international students, tourism and migration which will drift away from Victoria which has added to frustrations by continually shifting the goalposts and delaying laying out a pathway forward.

 

"With Australia’s national covid vaccine commander, Lt-Gen John Frewen, this week indicating that going from 70 to 80 per cent double vaccinated would be “hard work”, the expected delay in reaching the government’s goals will be deeply distressing for many in industry and the community.

 

"When Victoria fails, the entire country suffers.  Today’s announcement is sadly an enormous setback for Australia on so many levels,” Mr Willox said.

 

Ai Group’s Victoria Head, Tim Piper, said: "There is a strong minority element of vaccine hesitancy and opposition in the community and this roadmap puts the future of all Victorians in their hands. There is little short-term reward for the already vaccinated who have sought to do what they believe to be the right thing for themselves, their families, their businesses and workmates and for the community.

 

"Industry is already struggling with closed international and local borders, the implementation of vaccine policies, the concept of “vaccine passports”, upended supply chains and uncertain cash flow. The responsibility handed over to individual businesses to police the vaccine status of customers, patrons and visitors will overwhelm many business leaders and their staff.

 

"As a result of the state’s lack of ambition to end the COVID restrictions sooner, we have lost the Grand Final, we will lose the Spring Carnival and then are we likely to lose the economic stimulus of the Ashes Test, the Australian tennis open and the Australian Grand Prix? We cannot afford this situation to persist and we need greater hope and greater freedoms than have been offered today,” Mr Piper said.

 

Further comment

Tim Piper – 0411 430 301