26 July 2021
Retailers and retail workers have written to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, calling for a return to job subsidies and rent relief as the protracted lockdown in NSW threatens the sector nationwide.
In the letter to the PM, the Australian Retailers Association, the National Retail Association and the SDA, the union for retail and warehouse workers, note that the lockdown is putting such pressure on cash flow that many small retailers will fold and mid-size retailers risk closure nationwide with the loss of thousands of jobs.
The sector is calling for the return of targeted and proven measure such as JobKeeper 2.0, rent relief for businesses and the reintroduction of temporary changes to insolvency laws.
The signatories note that while they “appreciate the significant cost of this proposed package …. the harsh reality is that if these businesses fail the cost to the Australian taxpayer may be even larger…”
Retail employs 1.3 million people, ten percent of the workforce.
Bernie Smith NSW Secretary the SDA:
“While well intentioned the current arrangements are grossly inadequate to deal with what is now a protracted lockdown in the nation’s biggest economy.
“What we know from last year is that JobKeeper worked. JobKeeper meant millions of workers were able to keep the wolf from the door as well as keeping them connected with their employers so the economy recovered faster as the nation re-opened.
“Because those workers receiving any other Government benefit are excluded from Covid Disaster Payments those who can least afford it will suffer the most. Single mums doing the right thing by taxpayers holding down a part time job are left exposed. The health of our community depends on people being able to afford to stay home. Lockdown will last longer unless JobKeeper 2.0 is introduced.”
Australian Retailers Association (ARA) CEO Paul Zahra:
“This period of time is unprecedented in our national history – with long-term lockdowns occurring within multiple states, without the business safety net we had in place during previous lockdowns.
“The extended lockdowns currently in place within our two economic centres -NSW and Victoria – along with the snap lockdown in South Australia, puts more than eight billion dollars of retail trade at risk in recent weeks alone. This figure will grow substantially if the lockdowns are extended, which appears likely.
Unfortunately, State Government measures fall strongly short of what is required for business survival at this time. Similarly, the Covid disaster payment whilst welcomed is simply not enough to support workers through this extended lockdown period.”
National Retail (NRA) CEO Dominique Lamb:
“Retail is one of Australia’s most important sectors and significant job losses are inevitable if further assistance is not granted to businesses in lockdown locations.
“Retail is worth more than $350 billion to the Australian economy. It provides the country’s second-largest workforce, employs more young people than any other sector and is a key barometer to Australia’s broader economic outlook.
“Even when the current lockdowns end, there will still be pain for many businesses. It’s not like flicking a switch and the day after restrictions are eased the business landscape just reverts to normal. Consumer confidence will be jolted and many retailers will continue to struggle to keep people employed.”
Fleur Brown (ARA): 0419 270863
Mitchell Collier (NRA): 0410768072
Jim Middleton (SDA): 0418 627066