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Victorian businesses will not survive under harsh operating restrictions

Today, the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and the Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) send a joint message to the Victorian Government: ease restrictions or thousands of Victorian businesses will be forced to close or relocate interstate.

The Victorian Government seems to be no closer to opening up businesses further, with no obvious transport plan for getting people in and out of the CBD safely, little explanation for continuing blanket limits on patrons regardless of venue size and distancing capability, and no plan to reopen regional and suburban areas desperate to get back to work.

This is not good enough for Victorian businesses. They have done everything that has been asked of them through the COVID-19 health crisis, and now they need the green light to move into recovery.

The Andrews Government had a strong record of jobs creation. That record is being lost every day the Government fails to focus on getting Victoria back to work.

Latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released this week shows Victoria is the only state still losing jobs from prolonged restrictions, recording a 0.4% decline in May. New South Wales and South Australia are already at an advantage, recording increases of 1.6% and 2.2% in jobs.

Suffering from some of the toughest operating restrictions across Australia, Victorian businesses are being left behind those in other states and we are now at much greater risk of a jobless crisis.

When JobKeeper and other financial supports finish, unless businesses have been allowed to get up and running again, we will see mass job losses, business closures and damage to the Victorian economy that will be felt for years.

To be attributed to Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Paul Guerra:

"Businesses are worried, and they should be. While they once had signposts for reopening to plan towards, they are now left wondering when they can operate like their interstate counterparts.

"All Victorians will suffer if we don't get behind our businesses and ensure they are in a position to survive. We are heading towards an economic crisis and Victorian business owners are being held back from controlling their own businesses.

"By imposing overly restrictive blanket rules across our economy, the Victorian Government is showing a lack of trust in our businesses, when all they have done is abide by the rules. We need a plan that will help Victorian businesses to survive and to keep people in jobs."

To be attributed to Australian Industry Group Head Victoria Tim Piper:

"Businesses in Victoria need to be getting back to work. It's important for re-energising the economy and for creating and maintaining jobs. This can be done in a staged manner by allowing suburban and regional businesses to reopen providing that social distancing can be achieved.

"Businesses and workers want to be back in the workplace. We ask that government take the lead and encourage this to occur in a staged fashion. Suburban and regional businesses should be given the opportunity to open when social distancing can be created."

Together, VCCI and Ai Group are calling for:

  • Regional and suburban businesses to be given the green light to go back to work as their workers don't typically rely as heavily on public transport and can readily manage social distancing
  • Let hospitality businesses open without caps, where social distancing can be maintained
  • A transport plan for getting workers back to the CBD
  • A recovery plan to ensure Victoria experiences a surge in industry and jobs.

Media enquiries, Ai Group: Tony Melville – 0419 190 347