this week, ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie joined the CEO of the Council of Small
Business Organisations of Australia, Peter Strong, in a meeting with the Andrew
Colvin AM – head of the recently established National Bushfire Recovery Agency.
principal purpose of this meeting was to discuss the secondary financial
impacts on local communities and local business as a result of a loss of trade
caused by the large scale road closures and mass evacuations of large areas of
eastern Australia as a result of the recent bushfires – and what could be done
to address these impacts to ensure the ongoing economic well-being of local
communities affected by recent disasters (i.e. fires, flood and drought).
conversation was a positive one and comes as a result of ACAPMA member feedback
suggesting that while the financial impact on most businesses in our industry
has been mild to date, there are signs that many of the local communities in
which our businesses are operating are struggling financially as a result of
the recent disasters.
continues to work with all Australian Governments on strategic issues arising
from the bushfires. We are also working to ensure that all of the businesses
that comprise our industry – and their business customers – are aware of the
assistance that is available to small and medium businesses in the wake of the
recent natural disasters (see our previous story, Emergency
Support For Disaster Affected Businesses.
three days after Monday’s meeting with Andrew Colvin, the Prime Minister announced
that Australia was enacting an emergency response plan to the coronavirus
(COVID19) with a view to preparing for what appears to be an imminent virus
pandemic around the globe.
goes without saying that this announcement is both necessary and prudent and is
advanced from a position of preparation rather than panic. Clearly, all
precautions should be taken to protect Australians from harm. The activation of
Coronavirus Health Sector Emergency Response Plan outlines a tiered approach
to any future outbreaks, with provision made for government to escalate actions
in the face of virus outbreaks – including forced quarantine of geographic
areas if necessary.
the bushfires, however, the emergency response to this second ‘disaster’ could potentially
result in local communities being locked down to prevent the spread of an
outbreak – with consequent financial impacts on business trading”, said Mark
interesting to note that countries currently dealing with the outbreak,
including Hong Kong and Singapore, have advanced economic assistance for
business as part of their total response plan. To date, this is something that
the Australian Government has not formally considered, but ACAPMA has commenced
conversations in partnership with other national industry bodies with a view to
promoting consideration of economic assistance measures.
fair to say that 2020 is going to be a difficult trading year for most
action that rightly seeks to lock down communities to prevent spread of a virus
outbreak will undoubtedly impact businesses – particularly small businesses – coming
hot on the heels of the financial impacts of the recent fire and flood
disasters in the country”, said Mark
akin to a boxer being knocked down and then just as they are picking themselves
up of the canvas lifting their head to see another swinging blow coming towards
them”, added Mark.
are lucky (and prepared), we might just be able to duck this second blow, but
we must also prepare for a second hit just in case”, added Mark
providers of fuel, we are perhaps more cushioned than most other sectors to a
downturn, but if significant shut down of local communities occurs then we too
will experience significant and sustained reductions in turnover.
are resilient. We will get through this – particularly if we turn our minds to
how to protect our businesses (and the employment of our people) in a sustained
period of low turnover. This means that we need to closely monitor developments
of the coronavirus – not with a view to working out when we should panic, but
rather, knowing if, and when, the local area in which we are operating might
experience a downturn as a result of a virus pandemic.
are very different times and ACAPMA has altered its advocacy and government
engagement activity accordingly. This includes working closely with strategic forums
being implemented by Australian Governments to coordinate timely communications
on the emergency and economic response to both the recent natural disasters – and
the growing risk of a major virus outbreak. In turn, this information will be
shared with the industry as it comes to hand.
meantime, ACAPMA is interested in hearing from members about genuine need for
financial and other assistance of fuel businesses and/or the communities in
which they operate.
expect to be engaged with government in ongoing discussions about what can be
done to minimise the financial impacts of these back to back disasters and are therefore
looking for feedback from our members about any specific financial concerns arising
from these events – and or ideas about how these concerns might be addressed”,
wishing to provide input to this process are strongly encouraged to provide
feedback by emailing email@example.com or by calling Mark McKenzie on 0447 444 011.