‘Same mistake’: Major lockdown problem for Greater Sydney


The government is facing criticism for not helping more Aussies affected by lockdown as one business reveals it’s losing $15k per week.

The federal government is facing criticism for not helping more Australian workers affected by lockdown as one Sydney business reveals it’s losing $15,000 per week.

The opposition went hard on Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the government on Wednesday as Greater Sydney was plunged into another week of stay-at-home orders, having struggled to contain its latest Covid-19 outbreak.

“If only Josh Frydenberg was as quick to introduce the vaccine around Australia as he was to rule out additional support for workers and small businesses doing it tough as a consequence of the Morrison government’s incompetence,” Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers said.

Mr Chalmers claimed Aussie workers and small businesses “are hostages to this government’s incompetence” and warned we will see “more lockdowns for longer if the Prime Minister continues to shift responsibility for this vaccine debacle which is holding Australia back”.

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Meanwhile, the bickering between the federal and NSW state government now sees the two “off-side” with each other, in scenes similar to the tensions between Victoria and the federal government last month.

Key details of the back-and-forth between leaders during lockdown discussions have emerged, revealing the NSW Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, pleaded with Mr Frydenberg for economic assistance for those hardest hit; namely the return of the JobKeeper assistance program.

The Financial Review’s Tom McIlroy revealed: “Mr Perrottet reportedly argued against extending tough restrictions, warning that extending the lockdown for a further week would push struggling businesses to the wall.”

Yet Mr Frydenberg refused the request to reinstate the government wage subsidy, arguing residents in Greater Sydney are already eligible for a Covid-19 Disaster Payment of up to $500.

“We are not bringing back JobKeeper,” Mr Frydenberg said on Wednesday.

“That was an emergency support payment that we introduced at the height of the pandemic. We then extended it beyond the initial six months to 12 months. We brought in a tiered payment to take into account the number of hours that were worked.”

The federal government introduced the COVID-19 Disaster Payment in response to Melbourne’s fourth lockdown. It now also applies to the current Sydney lockdown.

“We don’t want to see the Morrison government make the same mistake in Sydney that they made in Melbourne which was too little, too late, too narrow, and as a consequence, the hundreds of millions of dollars lost out of the Australian economy is nowhere near replaced by the half-hearted efforts by our Prime Minister to provide support which is too little too late,” Mr Chalmers said.

“Whether it’s JobKeeper or some other type of measure, clearly there are workers and small businesses crying out for support and the government shouldn’t be so quick to rule that out.”

But it’s not just the federal government copping it.

Joshua Thorpe, owner of Sydney’s most awarded craft beer venue, The Taphouse, told news.com.au the initial 14 day lockdown (and looming extended lockdown) has caused “immense heartache” for not only his staff, but his business.

He is rallying to gather support for the state government to reconsider the relief allocation for small and medium-sized businesses, especially in the hospitality sector.

“We know what a hard time it is for our community and business owners forced into lockdown,” Mr Thorpe said.

“We want our State Government to do better and be better.

“We pivoted our business model to accommodate a takeaway service to ensure our staff were still working.

“Despite all of this, we’ve experienced a 96 per cent decline in revenue and with fixed overheads alone we’re at over $15k losses per week.

“I made the difficult decision earlier this year that if we did re-enter another lockdown I would not step down any of my full-time staff.

“I have eight full-time staff members who have mortgages, families to feed and rental payments to make, who simply cannot afford to be out of work, even if just for two weeks.”

Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney, Jess Scully, told news.com.au that “most, if not all hospitality, entertainment, event and night-life businesses have already exhausted their reserves over the last 18 months of lockdowns and restrictions” and called on the NSW government to throw struggling sectors a lifeline.

“Hospitality, entertainment, event and night-life businesses have had to persevere and pivot through the first lockdown, completely changing their business models and product offerings, and then endured a long run of restrictions, leading up to the most recent lockdown introduced in late June,” Ms Scully said.

“Their paths to recovery will be long and they will no doubt have to craft new paths to viable business operations while still having to manage high levels of restrictions on their patron capacities and trading.”

When pressed over the effects of lockdown to businesses on Wednesday, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian empathised, but offered little in the way of solutions.

“Mental health for many of our citizens is a big issue at the moment, especially for businesses who are trying to stay afloat,” she said.

“And if we need to do more of course we will.

“I know how tough businesses are doing, but I also appreciate they would much prefer living in an environment where there wasn’t a lockdown every second week, as opposed to what we’re doing now.”

Ms Berejiklian said the state government is expected to release a lockdown exit plan for businesses in the coming days.

“Within the next few days we will be bringing forward a plan that shows what life will look like the day we exit the lockdown and also what life looks like a few weeks after that time.

We want to provide certainty to business.”

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