After the disappointment of a desultory level of government support for small business announced to cover the extended month of lockdown in Canberra, “CityNews” MD JAMES ANDERSON wrote an open letter to Senator Zed Seselja about the damage the Liberal government is doing to innocent members of this community just trying to survive.
I wrote to you privately three weeks ago outlining the position of Canberra small business.
I pleaded for more support while praising the federal government for its hard work a year ago to keep our business, and many, many others in Canberra, afloat during these devastating COVID-19 times.
I implored you to use a successful template your government created with Jobkeeper and do it again for small business in what is shaping up to be a local lockdown of nine weeks – or more if the ACT government goes slow on letting the community out.
Things were already bad before the ACT lockdown. Business confidence was low, our friends and clients were looking at Victoria and then Sydney in protracted lockdowns and wondering how they could plan for the future.
We knew we were sitting ducks, always one case away from lockdown. However, we expect things will be worse post lockdown. The Chief Minister may be right in asserting that our affluent population of public servants may be ready to spend big post-lockdown, but our prudent and largely traumatised business community will look to save money wherever it can and plot a narrow path to survival.
Suffice to say that we, the company I own with my family, as well as a much larger Canberra business community, were winded by the pitiful extension to the business-support package announced by the Chief Minister and the Federal Treasurer.
It is half the meagre support offered for a five-week lockdown and “extra” support is again not linked to staffing levels, but to revenue.
Andrew Barr may be the public face of the ACT lockdown, but Josh Frydenberg and Scott Morrison are the public face of the economy. They will be held accountable for the businesses that fall and the recession that’s on the horizon.
Andrew Barr will be held accountable for any fallout from the lockdown, but you will be accountable for the failure of economic support.
As the federal election looms, we say to you, Zed, now – like never before – is the time to stand up and do the right thing by Canberra business.
James Anderson, managing director, “CityNews”
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