[Radio] Australia Today with Steve Price

“Come on Victorian Government giddy up, giddy up, let’s get the show open. There’s a lot of fully vaccinated people, fully vaccinated business owners, they should be able to do business in the normal way right now”– Bill Lang, executive director, Small Business Australia

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Bill Lang with Steve Price on Australia Today
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Steve Price

Bill Lang is the CEO of Small Business Australia. Just when we thought we were going to have freedom Friday in Melbourne, Bill, we get this nonsense about having your hair cut in the street.

Bill Lang

Yeah, well, it sounds like Steve for you, it doesn’t take very long when you get yours done, but, you know, maybe you won’t need the shampoo in parts of Melbourne are a particular hour during Melbourne, if you’re out there on the street and it comes down, it’ll save the barbershop having to pay for the extra water. But look, it’s the absolute craziness and continued inconsistency of sort of state by state approaches. What they say versus when you read into the detail. Just further uncertainty for anyone who’s got a small business who now has to again, try and interpret what the rules mean, and how do they apply, which will mean again, many of them will just say, Look, I’m not going to reopen. You know, I thought that there was, you know, so-called hope at the end of the tunnel, light at the end of the tunnel. But the continued uncertainty, particularly in certain types of industries where the inconsistency between I can, you know, go to my home, and it’s okay to visit a person’s place and visit with fully vaccinated people. But those people can’t go to a shop, they can go to a supermarket, they never go to a supermarket all throughout the pandemic. We haven’t seen explosions of cases of people, you know, catching the virus, you know, in supermarkets over the 19 months that this thing’s been going on for, yet we still have these rulers loving making rules. And I think there’s a real COVID cover-up going on here Steve.

Steve Price

Yeah. And that might be about to be blown. And I’m sure you’re aware of this legal action that’s been taken partly funded by the Jim’s mowing group to find out whether they can get their hands on the actual health advice that Brett Sutton has been passing to the government now if that comes out, that’ll be fascinating.

Bill Lang

Yeah, absolutely Steve and for, you know, more than 12 months, you know, around the country, you know, reasonable people have been asking for, you know, disclosure of you know, the health advice, you know, what have been the options, what’s been analysed, and when I say cover-up, the real cover-up here is along the lines of, you know, Australians don’t know just how geared up their health systems are. How productive they are, how many beds there are. We’re already seeing in Western Australia, in fact, it’s probably the most underprepared, you know, healthcare system. And we keep doing what got to protect the health system. And then most of Australians will go Yeah, well, that’s sort of emotionally makes sense. But isn’t the health system there to protect Australians? And who’s responsible for the health system? Or fundamentally, it’s operated by the governments and governments over a number of years. And of course, we have the state and federal governments pointing fingers at each other and blaming each other well, they’re responsible for that, and you know, blah, blah, blah. But, but the real thing here is like, what is the capacity? How, to what extent are they geared up? You know, why aren’t there enough people working in it, etc, etc. And the other sorts of questions now that people in the full light of day is starting to ask around, just how resilient are our public services, and it’s clear that they’re very different state by state.

Steve Price

You look at someone like this wholesale shoemaking business in Mentone, quoted in The Age today, where the boss David Jigilottie, says our floor space is seven and a half 1000 square metres, and we’re not allowed to have a person in the store. I mean, that makes no sense.

Bill Lang

Look, look, it doesn’t. And this is where, you know, small business owners and operators, you know, take a lot of risks, learn a lot of things by doing things, very practical people. And this is where they’re sort of shake their head and go, who’s making the decisions? What is their level of knowledge? What’s their level of engagement? Why, what do, you know, again, we had in Victoria is an example, you know, only took sort of seven days for it to get turned over. But based on absolutely no evidence, you know, closing children’s playgrounds. Same thing, there’s still a curfew in Victoria, if your listeners, you know, around Australia, there’s still a curfew going on into it. Absolutely no evidence to support it. And is it any wonder that we’re certainly seeing in our tracking research, a rapid decline in the level of trust in particular state governments, by the people in those states.

Steve Price

The regions in Victoria now have hospitality up and running. I was mentioning yesterday that a friend of mine was in a pub on the Bellarine Peninsula on Saturday, where the one per four square metre rule meant that in the bar where they have a dining room, they were booked out at the capacity of eight people, the table of six and a table of two,

Bill Lang

Now, Steve, you do the basic, yeah, numbers on that, yeah, there’s no profit being generated, you know, from that set up on the inside. And so what that means is, you know, that small business owner, and that small business owners family is effectively funding and providing employment for their staff and welcoming back those limited number of customers, but continuing to lose money. This is not a big business with you know, shareholders and millions of dollars. This is money that’s coming out of the family’s pocket. And we’ve seen in our research again, business owners have had to draw in superannuation and in some cases sold homes, drawn down on their savings, borrowed extra money where they can, but there’s a whole bunch that aren’t doing anything to go, look, we’re not taking any more risks. We’re going to keep sort of just staying closed until we have some more sanity and some more consistency that we understand. Because we’ve seen the flip-flopping that goes on, apparently, when the polls start changing. Now it’s time to move into a gear and don’t worry about a couple of 1000 positive cases in Victoria over the last couple of days, you know, now we’re on, we’re definitely opening up you see this sort of the flip of the switch, because they’re politicians and it’s all about the politics, staying in power or getting into power.

Steve Price

Yeah, it’s very, very disappointing human on a positive note, there will be changes on Friday, there will be some movement again, and hopefully that 80% double vaccinated rate will kick in around November 1/2 a couple of days before Melbourne Cup at 80% double vaccinated. We really need to be fully up and open and operational don’t we?

Bill Lang

Oh look, absolutely Steve and you know, we’d say the premier of New South Wales they’re really easily accelerator like he and his team are on the front foot moving forward in terms of reopening up and letting people get on with their lives and live you know, sensibly with this form of Coronavirus out there in the community. You know, Victoria, they certainly have with the races coming up, there’s nothing like a popular thing for the punters out there, 10,000 people will be I’ll be able to go to the Melbourne Cup etc. But, but come on Victorian Government giddy up, giddy up, let’s get the show open. There’s a lot of fully vaccinated people, fully vaccinated business owners, they should be able to do business in the normal way right now.

Steve Price

Great to catch up as usual. Bill, thank you have a good week.

Bill Lang

Thank you Steve.

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