3AW Drive with Tom Elliott

There has been no compensation news from the Andrews Government after their snap decision to send the state into 5-day circuit breaker lockdown. Many small businesses were preparing for a big weekend with Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day and were left with a $100 million loss in revenue as well as bills to pay for the stock and food ordered.

Bill Lang joined Tom Elliott on his 3AW Drive segment to discuss the latest in small business news.

[The following is a transcription from the radio segment]

Tom Elliott 0:00
Our next guest is a regular contributor to the programme. He is the executive director of Small Business Australia, Bill Lang. Good afternoon.

Bill Lang 0:07
G’day Tom.

Tom Elliott 0:09
Well, do you feel confident that the state government will give some sort of compensation to businesses who were affected by this five day circuit breaker lockdown?

Bill Lang 0:18
Look, it’s impossible to say. I think the only thing is that certain about what has been going on, and what’s likely to happen is that we’re going to continue to see some level of incompetence. You know, many of our members are calling the place, Sick-Toria now, not Victoria. That’s the home of the Victorian virus. And that’s the way the place is managed, the way decisions are made, the way they communicated, the way the community is engaged. Last time around, Tom, there were big announcements of a couple of billion dollars in the treasurer Victoria’s budget that’s going to help rebuild and recovery cetera, et cetera. You know, $100 million to sole traders. Now for many of your listeners, that sounds like a lot of money, but there are 330,000 sole traders, so 33,000 of them could potentially access $3,000. And as we speak today, you know, less than 15% of that is actually being paid out, because they make it too complicated. It comes after the fact when people see whether they can apply, they find out they can’t apply. I just don’t understand what this Labour government has about small business people, the 1.5 million people that own and operate and work in small businesses. Why do they hate small business people?

Tom Elliott 1:26
Well, that’s a good question. I put down to not so much hate as just very little direct experience to small business. A listener pointed out that there’s one person in the parliamentary Labour Party in Victoria, who grew up helping working in his parents pharmacy, but apart from that, it didn’t appear as though anybody else in the Labour Party had experienced in small business. Maybe they just don’t get it because when you live your life, you know, getting paid by the public sector. You know, whatever happens, your paycheck is guaranteed each week. I don’t think they understand that it’s not like that for small business people.

Bill Lang 2:02
Look Tom, I’m using the word hate to be a little bit provocative, but that’s the way it feels like why hasn’t there already been some sort of a package worked out, ready to be announced at the same time that they bring down the hammer, all they have is a hammer, in fact It’s not all they, it’s all he because he keeps saying I will, I’m going to be making decision. I’m going to do this, I’m going to do that. So I, I, I, you the six and a half million Victorians must you know, for those next five days do X, Y, and Z. So at the highest level, there’s no organisation around ‘Well, we’re going to have to do this’ and there’s no doubt it’s going to keep happening. You could call it the Sword of Damocles, well, yes, the pain of uncertainty is far greater than the certainty of pain. There was a blip of relief amongst most Victorians. But for the 1.5 million that own and operate or work in small businesses, the likelihood now that people are going to lose their jobs, and some of those businesses are going to close for good is gone up dramatically based on decisions and announcements made last Friday, you think about like earlier last week, we had gold standard, like gold standard one day, lockdown the next. Like, I guess the level of incompetence, and ongoing deception about things and the sort of grandstanding, we’ve got the gold standard, and people are going to copy ours and these press conferences that get held where you cannot even here if you listen, you cannot hear the questions that the journalists are asking. It’s always answered in the way they want to answer it. It’s always about spin, you know, deny, deflect. Now, it’s all about Avalon, let’s move on to the next thing. Like he is playing from the Trump playbook in terms of being populist and doing everything he can to try and keep himself in power. And the majority of Victorians are bearing the cost and the small business people the biggest cost of all,

Tom Elliott 3:45
So you’re actually saying that Daniel Andrews is a bit like Donald Trump?

Bill Lang 3:51
Now members are in contact with us every day, Donald Andrews, I think someone would call them at the daily press conference, all the media there, going live through the live news, you can’t really hear what the questions are, like, what kind of press release just go Tom with what the statistics are? And we’ve done well, so many million tests, and we’ve done this and we’ve done that, and blah, blah, blah, okay, like what is going on? Give us the information. But what can’t they walk and chew gum at the same time Tom? Couldn’t we have had something already sorted out? And so it was announced at the same time? So if I take the catering industry has been in contact with as a small business in Australia, $100 million in revenue has been lost over those five days, but 30 million in fresh food was already paid for. So it’s gone out the door.

Tom Elliott 4:33
I know. I noted that on Friday, it’s a double whammy. They’ve already paid for the food, most of which got tipped in the bin and they didn’t get the revenue. Alright Bill, well, I mean, you’re angry, and I get that and I’m angry about the whole thing. So and I’m also angry about the fact that I don’t think the government understands again, when you live your life on the public teet you think that money just appears out of nowhere, and that all small business people do just have a long weekend and come back at some indeterminate date in the future and everything will be okay and it’s not like that. Bill Lang the executive director of Small Business Australian, I’ve got to say I’ve spoken to a couple of people in the last few days one of them very successful business person is in the process of moving up to Queensland has just said, I am going to refuse to run my business from Victoria anymore. It’s just not worth it. You can’t run a business you know and expect to do business with people when you know you’re lockdown, you’re not in lockdown, you’re in lockdown and you’re not in lockdown. So he’s that that’s a very talented person, just one person I know who’s now been lost to another state. And if I know one, you can bet your bottom dollar there’s dozens more