ACT: First phase economic survival package welcomed as industry braces for uncertain times

ACT Executive Director of the Property Council, Adina Cirson, has welcomed the release today of the first phase ACT Governments Economic Survival Package in response to the COVID-19 crisis, which provides immediate assistance to business and the community sectors, but will continue to urge the government to keep engaged with industry and remain agile in its approach to the everchanging situation.

Industry groups have been collectively advocating to the government about the need for urgent and decisive action to roll stimulus measures out to the business community – who already are closing their doors in times of great uncertainty.

“Make no mistake, this is an hour by hour game of survival for Canberra businesses and we must work collaboratively to ensure every possible assistance measure is being considered.  This means that the government should not hold back on their financial support.  What is critical at this time is decisive, immediate action by all levels of government combined with longer term recovery planning, and this is a good start but the reality the Canberra region economy is going to need more, Ms Cirson said.

“Many of the first response stimulus measures are very closely aligned to our ‘ask’ of Government this week  - urgently needed to alleviate the immediate impacts of COVID-19 on the Canberra and Region business community, protect the Territory economy and support local workers.

“We particularly welcome the measures targeted at commercial building owners through rates relief, utility rebates, payroll tax exemptions and deferrals and waivers of many fees and charges which will assist them to provide all support possible to their tenants. 

“We cannot stress enough that these immediate and ongoing stimulus measures are required to prevent local businesses from shedding staff, closing their doors and losing confidence in their ability to recover.  This is a rapidly changing environment is going impact all sectors of our community, and ultimately the building and construction industry. 

“We continue to provide immediate and direct advice to the ACT Government and the Canberra Liberals on how to best support local business and industry during this difficult time. 

“We are particularly pleased to see a redirection of staffing resources in the Environment Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate (EPSDD) to get current DA approvals out the door – and ensure projects which are ready to go are commenced as soon as possible by our members.

There are more than 30,000 businesses in the ACT, who provide almost two thirds of Canberra’s jobs.  The Territory’s construction industry is the second largest private sector industry accounting for 8% of GDP and supporting the employment of 20,000 Canberrans. 

“It is also vital that we work together to support the Territory’s construction industry and the 1,900 construction apprentices currently in training.  Most importantly as we look to mid – long term measures, it is the building and construction industry which is key to economic recovery, Ms Cirson said.

Our members are taking proactive measures to ensure continuity of their own businesses, but also doing their bit to work with their suppliers, clients and tenants to offer support to them where possible, ease financial burden on smaller business owners and are acting where possible in the best interests of the broader community.

“We appreciate the collaborative engagement by the government with us and our members - and their ongoing commitment to remain in close contact with us over coming days and weeks as we consider what short to longer term plans are necessary to support our community. Ms Cirson concluded.

Fact sheet on ACT stimulus package attached.

Media contact:  Adina Cirson |M 0429 579 972|E acirson@propertycouncil.com.au