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URGENT PLAN NEEDED TO GIVE HOPE TO DEMORALISED BUSINESS SECTOR

The Property Council of Australia has called for the State Government to provide a clear and detailed roadmap for Victoria’s business sector to reopen as vaccination rates increase as the state’s sixth lockdown continues indefinitely.

Victorian Executive Director Danni Hunter welcomed the Premier’s announcement to increase the capacity of the construction industry to 50 per cent when 90 per cent of construction workers have received their first vaccine.

“This is a welcome first step in what we hope will be a phased full reopening of the construction industry which is so important to Victoria’s economy and has enforced strict COVID safety standards throughout the pandemic,” Ms Hunter said.

“However, we are disappointed that a phased return to office is not at all in the Government’s thinking and we know this is critical to the revival of Melbourne’s CBD and Victoria’s broader economy.

“It’s now clear that this sixth lockdown is a much longer and deeper one than we all had hoped and is having disastrous consequences for many businesses, thousands of jobs and the mental health of the Victorian community at large.

“Melbourne has now clocked up 211 days in lockdown and counting. The construction industry is just keeping the lights on, and Melbourne’s CBD has ground to a halt as people have been forced to work from home and many good businesses and their people are simply at breaking point.

“Office vacancies are at their highest rates since the end of the recession in the 1990s as office occupancy has plummeted and the construction industry is running at just 25 per cent of capacity despite enforcing world class COVID-safe guidelines throughout the pandemic.”

Ms Hunter said the Government must work with business to build a strategy for Victoria’s economic recovery that is graduated as vaccine rates increase. This should include plans for:

  • A phased full reopening of the construction industry
  • A safe return to the office of private and public sector workers including capacities and mask requirements
  • A return of real estate services including commercial property inspections so the property industry can recommence in a meaningful way

“We need to further accelerate our vaccine rollout by incentivising take-up so we can hit the 70 and 80 per cent targets and people can return to life as we knew it.  We know Victorians will bounce back with vigour after this extended lockdown with a hunger to come back together, to return to the office and to return to Melbourne’s CBD. 

“Looking beyond the cycle of lockdowns, it’s critical the Government works closely with the business community to both ensure their short-term survival and build a plan for Victoria’s long-term revival. This must include a plan to attract new investment, through proactive strategies such as tax relief, with the objective of locking in Victorian jobs well into the future.

“Our only pathway out of lockdowns is vaccination but we also need a plan to supercharge our economy when that time comes.”

Media contact: Eric Allilomou M: 0448 291 236 E: [email protected]