Ease the burden on business

Tourists on Hastings Street. Photos: Rob Maccoll

Margie Maccoll

After two years of Covid impacts, Noosa businesses have joined forces to call on the state and federal governments to provide financial assistance and relax some Covid requirements to assist recovery and prevent more businesses closing.

In direct response to the Covid crisis in 2020, Noosa Council convened a Noosa Business Roundtable with representatives from business associations, chambers, Tourism Noosa and government.

After recent roundtable discussions four business groups, Noosa Chamber of Commerce, Hastings Street Association, Noosaville Business Association and Noosa Junction Association, put together a four-step action plan to help with recovery and strengthening the community, and others have since endorsed it.

Spokesman Ralph Rogers said business operators within tourism, retail, hospitality and the arts had been hit particularly hard. With about 20 per cent of Noosa’s $3 billion economy reliant on tourism and hospitality, a sampling of the impact on operators showed average declines of about 40 per cent in revenue.

He said in 2020, without the government financial support packages such as Cashflow Boost payments, payroll deferrals and JobKeeper that were provided many businesses would have collapsed.

“The removal of many of these programs by the end of 2020, combined with continued lockdowns and border restriction have now created a crisis of cashflow for operators and the situation for many operators continue to deteriorate,“ he said.

“The continued impact has been devastating and has left businesses depleted of any financial reserves and many are on the brink of giving up. The concern now is that we are starting to see insolvencies in arts, tourism, hospitality and retails businesses which inevitably will lead to an overall an economic slowdown in the region. This presents an urgent and immediate danger to the sustainability of our region.

“Each business is a family, a couple, a livelihood. Through no fault of their own their business has been taken away.“

The proposed four point plan involves:

* Immediate cash flow assistance calculated on individual circumstances through BAS turnover to ensure money goes to businesses that need it.

* Review of vaccine mandates which have unfairly impacted hospitality, led to unwanted confrontations between staff, employers and customers and resulted in staff shortages in some instances

* Request clarity on the future of public health emergency powers awarded by the Queensland Government to the Chief Health Officer which is set to expire at the end of March.

*Cancel mandatory QR code check ins which have led to staff shortages, fraught relationships and loss of customers.

Mr Rogers said some mandated practices went against the harmonious environment that had been advocated in the industry for the past 40 years.

Noosa MP Sandy Bolton has delivered the plan to the office of The Premier along with letters acknowledging the need for business support from the MP and Noosa Council.