[VIDEO] Ticker News

With the March 31 deadline looming which will see the end of the JobKeeper subsidy, and COVID-19 as we know if far from over, Small Business Australia’s executive director, Bill Lang calls for a more tailored Small Business Saver fund to help those businesses affected by their geographic area and industry.

Bill Lang joined Alana McLean from Ticker News to discuss the latest in small business news.

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Or alternatively, you can read highlights from the transcript below.

Subject: The end of the JobKeeper support

Alana McLean
Should it be extended at the end of March?

Bill Lang
I think we need a new form of JobKeeper which we would call Small Business Saver. So the broad-based approach, I think, is at its use-by date, there are particular industries, particular geographic areas are hurting much, much more, they need more help more direct help directly to those sorts of businesses.

Subject: Examples of businesses affected by geographic area and industry

Bill Lang

I’ll give me a couple of examples there on the border area, Moama and Echuca, so in New South Wales, and Victoria, it’s probably the hardest hit, local community anywhere in Australia, almost 40 weeks of various restrictions, border closures, uncertainty is impacted that border town community.

Then we’ve got the independent travel agent industry now quite unlikely that there’ll be international travel out of Australia, you know, potentially for the next nine to 12 months, these people have worked basically all of 2020, taking the profits they earned in 2019, to be able to refund people keep their businesses operating without generating any new revenue. So this just two examples Alana were much more strategic and targeted solutions and needed from both federal and state governments.

Subject: Opportunities for small businesses

Alana McLean

While we’re sort of waiting to see how this [consumer confidence] plays out in terms of the subsidies, where are the big opportunities for everyday small businesses at the moment?

Bill Lang

We’ve seen some of the big companies and therefore there are also lots of little companies in certain categories in terms of what are people doing is spending more time at home.

So things like furniture related services, seen Harvey Norman really perform well, home electronics, any type of home-related service, so renovations, a lot of people are getting things done around the house. So one of the critical things for all small businesses, in fact, is now they need to really be online and need to have a good simple and functioning website, they need to be able to respond very quickly to any inquiries that are coming in. But anything that can be delivered in the home, the demand is up.

And then secondly, just making sure that you are online, easily findable via mobile phone, very responsive. So you might have something you can deliver to the home base, so be online, get yourself organised on that front and then anything to do with making the nest, a more comfortable place to live and to work for demands growing.

Subject: Increasing consumer confidence

Alana McLean

For so many Australians that lost their jobs, or they’ve had a really tough year on the financial front last year, there’s still 100 billion dollars in extra savings that some Australians had from last year. How can we actually get all these spending that’s to help small business?

Bill Lang

I think the big the big C word is confidence and by confidence that we see consistency from the various state governments and the federal government around how we go forward, how we manage outbreaks, and I think a nationwide you know, state of the art contract tracing mechanism.

So rather than these hard lockdowns and permits being needed to get into Victoria and cross the border, let’s link up all the contract tracing systems. Let’s use a state of the art approach. New South Wales has proven time and time again, their ability to keep most businesses open for most of the time letting people get about their lives and live and get on with business with the virus.

We need that to really go state across the country nationwide. So that we have the confidence that I don’t know around the corner is going to be another big massive lockdown because of some virulent strain or blah, blah, blah, like people know what they need to do personally to not get the virus and not spread the virus. We now need a more consistent, sensible approach from all the governments.