Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) has written directly to Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, asking for government financial assistance to prevent a catastrophic spike in unemployment once JobKeeper ends on Sunday.
Federal Treasury officials today said they expected up to 150,000 people to lose their jobs across the private sector once JobKeeper ends, with the subsequent loss of associated spending power capable of causing more businesses to fail in the coming months, including many in regional areas.
In its pleas to the PM, TAA has pitched two alternative systems whereby businesses directly impacted by public health orders and which have suffered a drop of 30% or more in revenue over the past year to be eligible to receive a cash boost payment equal to the Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) tax rate withheld from each employee.
A second option proposed was for a flat AUD$500 top-up for full time employees per week – equivalent to the current rate of JobKeeper.
A second tranche of measures, including expanded voucher incentive programs along with land and payroll tax relief was also being requested in a collaborative effort from federal and state governments. TAA said it did not make sense for a NSW business restricted to 50% operating capacity to still be paying 100% of its land and council tax rates, while employers in Victoria were still limited to 75% of their workforces onsite at any one time.
TAA National CEO, Michael Johnson, has asked for urgent consideration of the proposal by National Cabinet and for any assistance to run for the duration of the vaccination roll-out, which is expected to take up to six months.
“Hotels in the major CBDs of Sydney and Melbourne have occupancy rates below 35% and are really struggling to retain skilled staff,” Johnson said.
“Results of a recent TAA member survey of accommodation hotels in Sydney painted a bleak picture – a quarter of employees have been let go whilst another 15% are expected to be made redundant post-JobKeeper due to the on-going low occupancy rates.
“The Government has closed our international borders and put in place a range of restrictions. With no international visitors, cruise business, conferences or events for the foreseeable future these hotels need all the assistance they can get if they are going to be there when the pandemic ends.”
Australian Hotels Association CEO, Stephen Ferguson, said there was no doubt the end of JobKeeper will create unnecessary hardship for businesses upon which the government has imposed temporary, targeted restrictions to help save Australian lives.
“We understand the government restrictions are in place to keep Australians safe and we are proud of the role we have played,” Ferguson said.
“But the fact remains that while keeping us all safe, these limitations come at tremendous cost to business owners and workers – costs which will continue after the temporary assistance measures like JobKeeper end.”