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Australia Today with Steve Price

Bill Lang joined Steve Price from Australia Today to discuss the delay in financial assistance, Victoria’s statewide lockdown, politician bickering, regional struggles and hope for a light at the end of the tunnel.

Listen to the audio segment or read the full transcript below.

Steve Price 

125,000 businesses across Greater Sydney still waiting for financial assistance according to a story in the Sydney Morning Herald by Caitlin Fitzsimmons today, as of noon, Saturday, the New South Wales Government, get this, had received 199,316 applications for business grants, but approved and paid just 62,671 of them. A New South Wales government spokesman said it paid out $362 million so far with another $122 coming in several days time. But many people who qualified for those original grants and lodged application sooner after the opening day, back on July 21, still no money. Bill Lang is the CEO of Small Business Australia joins us on the line. Thanks for hanging on.

 

Bill Lang 

Good morning, Steve.

 

Steve Price 

It’s a confusing picture across the country. Let’s start with Victoria. Why is the whole state shut down? Given there are only 11 active cases in the western suburbs of Melbourne?

 

Bill Lang 

Well, there’s a playbook down here in Victoria, which is sort of has one strategy and that’s statewide lockdown. So the solution they go for every time, and there’s no doubt lock downs will work if you’re looking to reduce the spread, and get the cases down. However, there’s never any cost benefit analysis with respect to any support to Small Business families, it’s often too little, too late. Still happen this time with lockdown number six, this this focus, this maniac will focus on the total number of cases, positive cases, how many out and about in the community, etc, etc. Steve, we don’t see, we don’t see a country anywhere in the world, even those with the highest vaccination rates, where they’re not having to learn how to go forward with this virus and its various variants. Poor old Delta Goodrem, probably wants to change your name now. But by the time we get down to Omega, the reality is we’re going to be open and working out how to go about our lives with respect to some form of Coronavirus out there. And that, you know, what you just said is exactly right leadership. Where is the leadership? And what’s the definition? Well, yeah, a clear vision, a vision of something we want to move towards, communicated by our leaders in a clear and consistent way. The missing information.

 

Steve Price 

As Natasha just said, I mean, the government’s now seem to be standing up pointing the finger at all of us, and we you got to go and get vaccinated. Well, okay, we were happy to go and get vaccinated, give us enough supply, so we can go and do it.

 

Bill Lang 

And not only that Steve. Let’s, let’s see the address from the lodger with whatever particular house the Prime Minister’s in with a couple of the key advisors sharing all the information with us. Look, here’s what we know. Here’s what we don’t know. Here’s what we’re doing about it. Here’s what we need you to do. Over and over and over and over again, consistent clear communication, full transparency, giving us the total count of you know, the number of jobs that have been administered yesterday, you know, blah, blah, blah, all anyone cares about is when are we going to get there in terms of the amount of capacity by location where people can go out there and get their vaccinations, but but it’s lack of consistent clear communication to build the confidence of everybody Steve, which I think is one of the number one issues.

 

Steve Price 

We’ve got a situation where the two biggest states are in lockdown, you’ve got Queensland with parts of Queensland, now, Cains in lockdown, but I make the point that those other states that are not are going about their business, but small business in those places must be suffering as well, because they don’t have the engine room economies of Sydney and Melbourne to drive them along.

 

Bill Lang 

Well, there’s no question about that. So anything that was related to travel and tourism is being heard. But again, you’ve also got the level of overall citizen confidence to actually spend money. And same with when it comes to buying things online, potentially from other states. You know, some people are reducing what they’re spending as a result of their lack of confidence. And it’s one thing we’d ask every citizen, every Australian to keep supporting your local businesses. And people have been just amazing over the 18 months in terms of doing that to provide direct support by buying things from local businesses. But make no mistake that those other states for as much as I like to be independent colonies and point the finger and carry on. They’re going to be impacted by this. The only one that sort of not really getting impacted as a result of, you know, its natural endowment of resources with all the orange dirt is WA, but the rest of them are also increasingly now experiencing real pain.

 

Steve Price 

Do you believe that the vast majority of the population would support choosing a date to when Australia stops getting locked down and we move forward?

 

Bill Lang 

I think they absolutely would, based on some full open disclosure and explanation and education of the situation we are in now. What it’s going to take to get out of it and the timeframe, etc. Then have the confidence that it can actually be done. As opposed to all this noise we continue to hear there’s even fighting going on within the New South Wales Government with respect to in its cabinet and the finger pointing over you know, people the small businesses not getting access to the money that they were promised quickly enough. So they’ve got ministers pointing fingers at each other. But that’s not what we want. We’re supposed to be working together – What’s the problem? How can we fix it? Communicate it clearly, bring the people with you.

 

Steve Price 

Yeah, well said Bill, good to catch up again mate. Thanks a lot. Bill Lang, CEO of Small Business Australia.

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