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Businesses tell Trad that the old ways won't work any more


Queensland’s 40,000 small businesses have called for wide-ranging reforms and spending to revive the economy after a survey of its members found massive impacts from the COVID-19 shutdown and government-as-usual would not work.

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The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland said a survey of its members found there had been “devastating” impacts. Among them was that 17 per cent of businesses were forced to close, 40 per cent laid off casual staff or stood down permanent staff and more than half reported revenue reductions of more than 50 per cent.

And while the business community has applauded government moves to ease the impact, the CCIQ said it was time to start putting in place the steps for a revival.

It has produced a list of reforms that included an exemption from payroll tax for the Jobkeeper payments that the Federal Government has provided and already said it would treat as taxable income. It also wants concessional loans of up to $250,000 for affected businesses, commercial rent relief and a freeze on taxes and levies for six months.

It has also said there should be a subsidy for apprentices and trainees for three years, incentives to attract regional air services and for a start on $4 billion worth of infrastructure projects already funded by the Federal Government.

However, the difficulty for Treasurer Jackie Trad is that the list of reforms would have a hefty price tag and the Queensland Government’s revenue from taxes and fees has already been drastically cut. GST payments are also expected to be significantly down and other sectors of the community are also demanded financial assistance.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the Government had always said this pandemic is a health crisis and an economic crisis.

“While the main focus has been keeping Queenslanders safe, we’re also focussed on the state’s economic recovery,” she said.

“We’ve already announced more than $4 billion to get our state back on track and I now have a taskforce convened of health experts and economic experts across government looking at the staged approach that we can look at opening up the economy again.

“I will have further announcements to make over the coming weeks.”

CCIQ’s general manager of advocacy and policy, Amanda Rohan said a “new normal” was waiting for business when the state emerges from the crisis and it was unreasonable to think everything would return to business as usual.

“There is no magic solution, there is no quick fix, and that is why chambers across Queensland are combining to ask the Government to look at the way they do business with business,” Rohan said.

“The economic shocks of this crisis are not yet fully realised, businesses are vulnerable and to assume they can turn everything back on after months of hibernation without a recovery plan is risky business.

“We want to start working with the Government now to put a recovery plan in place for businesses to have the confidence to emerge as restrictions are eased.”

The state’s chambers have written an open letter to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk claiming the economic and social impacts of coronavirus were only just starting to emerge.

“There needs to be a new normal in how government works with business,” the letter said.

“We can create jobs, but not if we’re taxed more for every new person we hire. We can build the dams, roads, railways and recycling plants that Queensland needs, but not if governments keep playing politics with infrastructure spending.

“We can start-up, scale-up and grow, but not without the right support to help us to thrive. We can transform our state into the powerhouse it should be, but not if it’s going to be government as usual.”


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