Virus crisis / Government is failing us in real time

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JAMES ANDERSON is the managing director of Macquarie Publishing, the publisher of “CityNews” and citynews.com.au. As a business leader he is mightily frustrated by the lack of clarity and co-ordination from our political leaders.

AS an owner of a small business in Canberra, I can safely say our federal, state and territory governments are failing us in real time.
“CityNews” managing director James Anderson.

This crisis is presenting a total lack of clarity and coordination on behalf of government as to what the situation is, what we as citizens need to do and what governments are doing to manage this effectively.

I can imagine all business owners will be looking to their people and will not have clarity on how to move forward, other than the need to continue operating as long as possible.
We have a responsibility for our staff but the ground is shifting on a daily basis, just last week the same prime minister who was encouraging everyone to go to the footy is chiding everyone for doing just that and proceeds to close clubs, pubs and beaches with more surely to come.
In this environment revenue is as much an issue as expense, making our payroll every week requires our team continuing to work, and every business desperately trying to adapt in order to keep going.
By making half decisions on who is “essential” or not government is not providing a stable market for the majority of business to operate, who can make spending decisions when the future is entirely up in the air.
The federal government has committed to providing cash flow relief to businesses in late April, how many businesses can hold on that long with revenue slashed and payroll and rent ever-present concerns.
The answer seems to be to borrow money from the bank, under what terms and what security is required is still unknown and I for one am really looking forward to that!
The federal government is also committed to doubling Newstart, but also a month away, I wonder how long the most vulnerable in our community, including those who have been recently had their employment terminated, are able to hold on with the MyGov website failing and massive queues in front of Centrelink.
This government is not prepared to support this community in the immediate, direct and meaningful way it absolutely requires. This government must cover wages and double the jobseeker allowance immediately to save the economy and provide certainty for its citizens.
Schools also provide a massive problem. While the medical research appears to be split, our schools are telling us they won’t turn anyone away, while begging us not to bring our kids in for health and safety reasons, even telling the kids it is not safe (yes, a teacher said this to a kindy student).
At the same time before and after school care (run by an outsourced provider) is still going only adding to the confusion. Half-pregnant solutions don’t lead to consistent outcomes.
This flows on to parents and businesses who need to accomodate this and look after our kids as an increasing burden. There are no easy answers, but I was shocked with Yvette Berry’s response to Liberal MLA Elizabeth Lee’s fair question (via Twitter) on the difference between Scott Morrison’s Sunday press conference and ACT “pupil-free” policy.
“Call me you have my number” is hardly an option for an electorate looking for consistency and clarity.
All of this speaks to governments who are not used to transparency and who seek to avoid making decisions that will cost them money. They want to push difficult decisions down to employers, parents and corporations and are surprised when outcomes do not align with their garbled communication. Governments are failing us on economic certainty by not providing clear, consistent and quality communication and this must change urgently.

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