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Jennifer Westacott interview with David Koch, Sunrise, Seven

  • Written by David Koch and Jennifer Westacott


David Koch, co-host Sunrise: We are joined by Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott. Good to see you again.

 

Jennifer Westacott, chief executive Business Council of Australia: You too.

 

David: Jennifer, good news for businesses at least there is a date to work towards but for many is it going to come way too late?

 

Jennifer: There is some positive and welcome news yesterday, but we are a long, long way from where we need to be. And being a long way from where we need to be compared to other states like New South Wales, means more job losses, more businesses failing. I suspect some businesses leaving Victoria. Nobody wants a third wave here and that is why we want to work constructively with the government to say, 'Well look, if you have got a COVIDSafe plan as business and you haven't had transmission, can you open earlier? If you are a region that's never had a case and there is no transmission, can you fully open earlier?' We want to get a bit more certainty about how these triggers are going to work so that business can plan leading up to Christmas. Because as you know, for many businesses, particularly small business - Christmas is make or break. We want to get this focus on local lockdowns that you have just been talking about, like what is being done in New South Wales. Because in New South Wales, they have recreated 314,000 jobs that were lost in the first lockdown. What we need to give everybody is a sense of hope.

 

David: Absolutely. Are the restrictions, the triggers, for further easing of lockdown just unrealistic in Victoria? I put to the Health Minister that they seem to have gone rouge from the national blueprint, that it is way different to New South Wales, which is actually managing and getting people back to work?

 

Jennifer: Well you are absolutely right, and we have been calling for this for ages as you know. Can we have one set of rules across the country? And New South Wales is a great example where people have got that local containment, they've got that local crackdown, they are managing it really effectively. They're opening businesses up. We have got to make sure that we start to find a way for businesses to get open, for people to get their jobs back, and to your point, for people's mental wellbeing. We have got to give people a sense of hope, particularly leading into Christmas. Particularly small companies, they just can't plan if things chop and change all the time.

 

David: Yep and you've got JobKeeper being watered down from the end of this month so it's going to get tough for a few of them?

 

Jennifer: Businesses have been fantastic though. The way that they have adapted Kochie has been amazing. The lengths they've gone to, to protect their customers and their teams and their suppliers - it has been incredible. And they will continue to adapt but we need practical, workable plans.

 

David: Good to see you, thank you Jennifer.

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