More than a few tweaks needed for recovery

A leading business group says it’s naive to believe a few adjustments to the economy will help Australia recover from the coronavirus pandemic and get people back into jobs.

Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott says the economy needs to be opened up, businesses need to invest and governments will need to stimulate through infrastructure spending, tax cuts and the extension of the JobKeeper and JobSeeker arrangements.

She is also against the closing of borders to try and contain the virus.

“The one extreme measure to the other, stop-start, is going to sap confidence, it’s going to cost jobs, that’s the last thing we should be doing,” she told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program.

“We cannot eliminate this (virus) without a vaccine, we are a long way from that, we have to live with it therefore we have to get the systems right to manage these local outbreaks,”

Deputy chief medical Officer Nick Coatsworth believes a vaccine won’t be available for potentially 18 to 24 months, but given so much effort is going into finding one, he is hopeful one will be found.

Westacott was encouraged the Morrison government has promised the coronavirus welfare measures of JobKeeper and an extended JobSeeker payment would taper off rather than be cut off in September.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said if the government was providing future support, they needed to outline now what that would look like.

Treasury conducted a review of the JobKeeper wage subsidy and the enhanced JobSeeker dole payment which was handed to the government in late June.

However, the findings won’t be revealed by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg until July 23 when he hands down an economic statement.

“The prime minister has had the report since June, what’s he waiting for,” Albanese told Sunday Agenda.

“This is a prime minister that has been big on announcements and on marketing all those announcements.”

The Victorian head of the Australian Industry Group Tim Piper applauded the Andrews government’s $534 million support package for business during the renewed lockdown.

It includes $5000 grants for 80,000 eligible businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire.

But Piper said further support could be targeted at different industry sectors, recognising all businesses are suffering from COVID-19.

“Manufacturers cannot simply stop and start their businesses. If they stop it is likely to be for good,” Piper said in a statement.

“They provide vital and well-paid jobs which will be significant for our future economic wellbeing.”

Westacott believes some two million people will be looking for jobs in the next two years.

But unlike the post-global financial crisis period, China is not growing at the same pace that helped to lift the Australian economy and there isn’t the same population growth domestically.

“Anyone who thinks that simply a few adjustments here and there is going to do that task is pretty naive,” Westacott said.

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