Industry welcomes latest COVID-19 economic response


Tuesday, 24 March, 2020



Industry welcomes latest COVID-19 economic response

The building and construction and trucking industries have welcomed the Australian Government’s second coronavirus (COVID-19) stimulus package, announced on 22 March. These industries have also affirmed their commitment to safety amid COVID-19. This second stage of the government’s economic plan will assist these and other industries in continuing to operate safely. A total of $189 billion is being injected into the economy from all arms of government as part of the government’s economic plan to cushion the fiscal impact of COVID-19.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that the $189 billion economic support package was the equivalent of 9.7% of GDP. Among the support for businesses included: boosting cash flow for employers, a coronavirus small and medium enterprises guarantee scheme and temporary relief for financially distressed businesses. “These measures build significantly on what we have already announced,” Frydenberg said. “These extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures.” Detail on the second COVID-19 economic package is available here.

Industry response

Australian Trucking Association

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA) has welcomed the government’s economic plan, believing it will support trucking operators and deliver business confidence. “We thank the government for listening to the concerns that we raised and strongly congratulate them for the decisive action they have taken. It will help ensure that many of our owner-drivers will remain in the industry for the long term,” Geoff Crouch, ATA Chair, said.

In setting out the particular benefits that the trucking industry would see from the second COVID-19 economic package, Crouch said: “Small and medium-sized trucking businesses that employ staff will be eligible for a cash flow boost of up to $100,000 with a minimum payment of $20,000. Businesses with an aggregated turnover of less than $50 million will be eligible. Eligible truck owner drivers will be able to apply for an expanded JobSeeker Payment with a new coronavirus supplement.

“The expanded JobSeeker Payment addresses one of the key issues we raised in our discussions with Treasury and in our formal submission to the government last week. The industry’s 28,900 owner-drivers are critical to Australia’s supply chains but were not eligible for support under the government’s first economic package,” Crouch added.

“We thank the government for listening to the concerns that we raised and strongly congratulate them for the decisive action they have taken. It will help ensure that many of our owner-drivers will remain in the industry for the long term,” Crouch said. “It is only when we work together and communicate with a united voice that we achieve the results that are so important.”

Master Builders Australia

The building and construction industry has also welcomed the stimulus package. “We commend the government for its commitment to doing what it takes to see the country through the health and economic shock of COVID-19 and we restate the importance of building and construction as an essential service,” Denita Wawn, CEO of Master Builders Australia (MBA), said.

“Economically it’s one of the main chances of getting stimulus measures to hit the ground hard and fast. Maintaining building and construction activity around the country is one of the most effective ways of injecting money into the economy at this time of crisis.” In particular, MBA acknowledged that the government’s support package would assist in keeping small businesses (including sole traders) viable and all non-profit organisations to keep people in work.

MBA also highlighted the safety measures that have been adopted across the industry in response to COVID-19. “Our industry is already implementing social distancing and risk mitigation policies and we are working collaboratively with trade unions to this end. We will continue to enact measures to safeguard the health of the 1 in 10 Australians employed in our industry and call on governments to keep them in jobs by keeping our industry building,” Wawn said.

Working together

Both ATA and MBA are advocating for their respective industries to come together and collaborate in meeting the challenges of COVID-19. In a joint statement, the MBA and CFMEU National Construction Division announced that they are “joining forces” to help support the construction industry through the COVID-19 pandemic. Initiatives are also underway at the state level to help support vital industries and promote safety at this time. This includes in Queensland, where measures have been put in place to support certain sectors, including manufacturing.

Information on the Australian Government economic response to COVID-19 and support for businesses is available at www.treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/businesses. For the latest health information on COVID-19, refer to the Australian Government Department of Health.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/rh2010

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