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WA will be back in business as Phase 3 kicks off in a week

WA will be back in business as Phase 3 kicks off in a week

Western Australia will soon become the first state in the country to reduce the 4sqm rule at venues down to 2sqm, with a wide-reaching Phase 3 relaxation of restrictions to be rolled out at 11.59pm on Friday, 5 June.

体育在线365 The new measures will allow for up to 100 people to gather at a time in one place, while food courts, gyms, beauty salons, wellness centres, galleries and gaming venues and more will be allowed to reopen.

体育在线365 The move comes a day after WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt revealed predictions the state's economy would likely contract by 3.1 per cent in FY21, sending the economy into recession.

Today's announcement also follows a National Cabinet meeting where it was agreed the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) would be scrapped in favour of a permanent National Cabinet set-up with job creation as its top priority. 

Western Australia currently has 25 active cases, of which almost half stem from a cluster linked to a Al Kuwait livestock carrier under quarantine in Fremantle Port. 

体育在线365 The decision to move to Stage 3 was based on the success in limiting community transmission during Phase 2, and on the advice of the Chief Health Officer and State Emergency Coordinator.

Western Australians must continue to practice physical distancing and good personal hygiene at all times.

体育在线365 Phase 3 will come into effect from Saturday, 6 June (11.59pm Friday, 5 June). It includes:

  • non-work indoor and outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people at any one time, per single undivided space, up to 300 people in total per venue (100/300 rule);
  • food businesses and licensed premises may operate with seated service;
  • alcohol may be served without a meal at licensed premises (patrons must be seated);
  • food courts can reopen with a seated service;
  • beauty therapy and personal care services to reopen;
  • saunas, bath houses, float centres, massage and wellness centres to reopen (100/300 rule);
  • galleries, museums, theatres, auditoriums, cinemas and concert venues can reopen (during any performance, the patrons must be seated. (100/300 rule));
  • Rottnest Island to reopen to the WA general public;
  • Perth Zoo to open with no patron limit for the whole venue (the 100/300 rule applies to indoor spaces and cafés/restaurants);
  • wildlife and amusement parks can reopen (100/300 rule);
  • arcades (including pool/snooker, ten pin bowling, Timezone), skate rinks and indoor play centres to reopen (100/300 rule);
  • auction houses and real estate auctions can reopen;
  • TAB and other gaming venues (other than the Casino which is being considered separately) are permitted to reopen;
  • full contact sport and training is now permitted;
  • playgrounds, skate parks and outdoor gym equipment are permitted to be used;
  • parents/guardians will be able to enter school grounds to drop off or pick up their children;
  • gyms, health clubs and indoor sports centres will be able to offer the normal range of activities, including the use of all gym equipment (gyms must be staffed at all times and undertake regular cleaning).

体育在线365 Large community sporting facilities or wildlife parks that can accommodate more than 300 patrons, while allowing for two square metres per patron, may be able to apply for an exemption to the 300 patron limit through wa.gov.au for a decision by the Chief Health Officer.

体育在线365 Travel will now be permitted throughout Western Australia, including into the Kimberley region, pending the Commonwealth's approval to remove the Biosecurity Area on 5 June. Access into remote Aboriginal communities will remain prohibited.

WA businesses are reminded that they must submit a COVID Safety Plan, prior to reopening, to ensure they mitigate the risk of COVID-19, in line with health advice. Premises that opened during Phase 2 should update their COVID Safety Plans accordingly.

Phase 4 will be finalised in the coming weeks, based on the advice from the Chief Health Officer and will take into account the impact of Phase 3 in the WA community.

As per the advice from the Chief Health Officer, Western Australia's hard border with the rest of Australia will remain in place.

体育在线365 "This is another significant step in our roadmap to recovery and sees Western Australia continue to lead the way on easing restrictions,"  says Premier Mark McGowan.

"We've been able to commence Phase 3 earlier than initially planned, due to consistently low numbers of COVID-19 and based on health advice, as has always been the case.

"Western Australia's performance has been world-leading. Each and every Western Australian can feel proud that their hard work and willingness to do the right thing during what has been an incredibly difficult time, has got us to this point."

体育在线365 The Premier says he knows how frustrating the restrictions can be and he wishes he could remove them all at once, but the government needs to follow the health advice.

体育在线365 "It's worked so far," he says.

"Phase 3 is a big step forward for our State. It allows more people to get out and enjoy a meal or a drink with friends and family, supporting local businesses.

体育在线365 "Reducing the four square metre rule down to the two square metre rule is possible thanks to WA's success in minimising the spread of COVID-19, and our hard border with the Eastern States.

"It will also allow Western Australians to enjoy more social and recreational activities and continue to get back to a more normal way of life."

South Australia was originally due to ease a wide range of its restrictions on 5 June as well, but its move to Step 2 has now been brought forward to Monday, June 1.

Pubs, restaurants, cinemas, places of worship, beauty salons and other sites will now be permitted to have 20 people per room, up to a maximum of 80, on their premises, as long as they comply with appropriate safeguards.

"We've been able to ease restrictions earlier due to low case numbers, high testing rates and the continued cooperation of the South Australian public," says SA Premier Steven Marshall.

"This will help fast-track our economic road to recovery and reactivate thousands of local jobs throughout the state.

"Businesses and organisations are required to complete COVID-Safe plans before reopening, ensuring we reboot our economy as safely as possible."

Updated at 4:25pm AEST on 29 May 2020.

Victorian ski slopes to open from 24 June

Victorian ski slopes to open from 24 June

Just yesterday snow bunnies in NSW rejoiced at the news that slopes would reopen from 22 June体育在线365, but now Victorian slope operators are joining in on the action.

Hotham and Falls Creek will be open from 24 June for skiing and snowboarding following approval from the Victorian Government.

体育在线365 Accommodation operator Vali Resorts says its resorts will be open with COVIDsafe principles enforced including social distancing measures and enhanced cleaning protocols.

体育在线365 Skiers and snowboarders will only be able to access the resorts with a pre-purchased pass or lift tickets; on-the-day lift tickets will not be available.

体育在线365 "We are grateful for the opportunity to open our resorts for the 2020 snow season, especially given the difficult year endured by our mountain communities, and we take seriously the responsibility we have to keep our employees, guests and communities safe in this new environment," says Pete Brulisauer, senior vice president and chief operating officer for Vail Resorts, Perisher and Australia.

"Delaying our traditional opening from the June Long Weekend to 24 June is intentional to ensure our entire team has the time to fully understand and embrace our new COVID-19 Safe Operating Plan so that we can deliver a safe experience for our guests.

"We thank our guests in advance for their patience, understanding and cooperation as we all adapt to the new social distancing measures required to allow us to enjoy skiing and snowboarding this season."

Yesterday the NSW Government announced that its alpine region will be open for business next month, with work underway to ensure COVIDsafe measures are in place at Thredbo, Charlotte Pass and Perisher.

体育在线365 Thredbo says it will be operational from 22 June, while Charlotte Pass Snow Resort says it will have commenced company operated accommodation from Thursday 25 June with an expected commencement of Mountain operations from 26 June.

Perisher will be operational from 24 June.

Updated at 12:24pm AEST on 29 May 2020.

Fashion brands Review, Yarra Trail and more in limbo as PAS Group enters administration

Fashion brands Review, Yarra Trail and more in limbo as PAS Group enters administration

A listed retailer that owns such brands as Review, Yarra Trail, JETS Swimwear Australia, Marco Polo and Black Pepper has entered voluntary administration, just three weeks after announcing the progressive reopening of stores.

The directors of PAS Group (ASX: PGR), whose Designworks division also supplies private labeled products and licensed brands including Everlast, Mooks, Dunlop and Lonsdale, have appointed PwC partners Stephen Longley, David McEvoy and Martin Ford as voluntary administrators.

Leading into the pandemic The PAS Group had performed relatively. EBITDA rose 78 per cent to $10.1 million in the first half of FY20, although after tax it ran at a net loss of $1.2 million.

That result was largely to do with the closure of 42 bricks-and-mortar stores in the prior period, including the exit from 14 David Jones concessions followed by a an exclusive partnership agreement with Myer for PAS' Review brand.

But on 27 April the company announced it was pursuing restructuring options and had appointed a team of advisors to assist. On the same day it was revealed Designworks managing director Brendan Santamaria had resigned, and would be replaced by group CEO Eric Morris who has since taken on both roles.

On 8 May the company announced it had the intention of reopening its Australian stores by the end of the month, some of which would be on a reduced hours basis. Throughout the pandemic the company has still fulfilled online orders from a limited number of physical stores.

In its announcement today, the company emphasised it was in good financial shape but the view had been taken that voluntary administration would be the best course of action.

"While the Board is of the view that the company is solvent, given the issues as a result of unfavourable financial market conditions, the COVID-19 crisis and the challenges of restructuring in that environment, it felt that Administration was the best way to affect change while protecting all stakeholders," the company said.

体育在线365 "The Administrators will undertake a preliminary review and assessment of the Group's operations that have been impacted by difficult trading conditions, including the COVID-19 pandemic.

"PAS Group enters voluntary administration with the strong desire to restructure the Group and allow it to continue operating strongly and sustainably into the future."

The group says stores will continue to trade as normal, in line with current local restrictions across Australia and New Zealand, and all store credits and vouchers will be honoured.

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Business News Australia

NSW ski fields to reopen from 22 June

NSW ski fields to reopen from 22 June

Skiers and snowboarders will be permitted to hit the slopes in NSW from 22 June as the State Government eases COVID-19 restrictions further.

The NSW Government today announced that its alpine region will be open for business next month, with work underway to ensure COVIDsafe measures are in place at Thredbo, Charlotte Pass and Perisher.

"One of the highlights of the winter tourism season is a trip to our alpine regions, however, while many people are eager to return to the slopes, it is important that visitors can enjoy themselves safely and responsibly," says NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro.

体育在线365 "The NSW Government, through NSW Health and NSW Police, is working closely with ski field operators, associated businesses, suppliers and industry associations to ensure COVIDsafe measures are in place when the season commences.

体育在线365 "These measures will mean that fewer people will be able to visit and stay at resorts this season, so it is essential that people book and confirm their travel arrangements and accommodation before they travel."

While the slopes and resorts will be open Barilaro says social distancing must be observed, and there will be limits to the number of people on ski areas and in accommodation.

"We are welcoming every visitor to regional NSW with open arms and I will be celebrating by shouting a few beers, but it is more important than ever that we continue to be responsible and maintain good physical distancing while we are enjoying ourselves," says Barilaro.

"No matter where you are visiting, make sure you book, check that places you'd like to visit will be open, confirm your arrangements before you travel and, most importantly, if you do feel unwell, postpone your trip."

The NSW Tourism Industry Council has welcomed the development after fears from businesses in the alpine region that they would lose an entire snow season to COVID-19 restrictions.

体育在线365 "Any small step is welcome news for all of the industry participants, and we thank the NSW Government for this proactive step," says Simon Spellicy, Chair of the NSW Tourism Industry Council.

"We understand it will be a ski season like no other, missing the traditional Queens Birthday Weekend start, as well as a number of safety measures put in place.

"Operators now have the best part of three weeks to work with Government authorities to ensure their practices are compliant and meet the necessary requirements."

Thredbo says it will be operational from 22 June, while Charlotte Pass Snow Resort says it will have commenced company operated accommodation from Thursday 25 June with an expected commencement of Mountain operations from 26 June.

体育在线365 "Charlotte Pass Snow Resort is committed to ensuring that the health and safety of our guests, staff and the community is a top priority," says Charlotte Pass Snow Resort.

体育在线365 "With this in mind and as part of our CovidSafe plans, Charlotte Pass Snow Resort will be rolling out a series of wellbeing measures to help give our guests peace-of-mind for their 2020 snow holiday. These measures will be announced in the coming days and provided to all guests before visiting."

Updated at 2:11pm AEST on 28 May 2020.

Carlton & United Breweries to deliver 2,000 barrels of free beer to Australian pubs and clubs

Carlton & United Breweries to deliver 2,000 barrels of free beer to Australian pubs and clubs

To support Australian pubs and clubs Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) is rolling out 2,000 barrels of free beer.

The brewer has also doubled its fundraising target from $1 million to $2 million in cash through its 'For The Love of your Local' campaign to help the ailing hospitality industry.

The cash injection will go to Aussie venues that are in need of funds to survive, plus more than 100,000 litres (equating to 200,000 pints) of donated CUB beer to pour for their patrons when they reopen.

体育在线365 CUB CEO Peter Filipovic says despite restrictions easing, many pubs and clubs still face enormous challenges.

"The ongoing restrictions will continue to significantly limit trade and, for some venues, re-opening will have to wait until restrictions are further lifted," Filipovic said.

"Australian pubs and clubs have already been shut for two months and the fact is many of these beloved venues won't make it through this crisis without extra help. So, we're calling on Australians to help save their local and get free beer in the process.

"We've had 2,000 pubs and clubs join already and, if you're a venue that needs help, I'd urge you to sign-up too."

体育在线365 People can support their local by visiting loveofyourlocal.modirevlon.com and nominating their favourite venue, then buying a pint of CUB beer using their credit card or PayPal account, with the cash going to the venue directly.

体育在线365 When the voucher is redeemed CUB matches the purchase with a free pint, meaning patrons can get 2-for-1 pints once their local reopens.

A fleet of customised Carlton Draught and VB trucks is also hitting the road this week to help quench the financial thirst of some Victorian and Sydney pubs, selling takeaway tap beer in glass bottles known as "Growlers" from pub carparks.

The lockdown has devastated Australia's $20 billion plus pub and club industry, which is made up of more than 10,000 venues and employs many of the nation's 1 million hospitality workers.

Victorian hotelier Annie Hateley, operator of Drums Hotel, said the coronavirus restrictions had reduced their operations to the off-premise bottle shop and take-away menu.

"With the bar and bistro being closed for nine weeks, our food and beverage revenue is down by about 90 per cent. The support of Government and key suppliers such as CUB has been really important to our financial viability," Hateley said.

体育在线365 "It's been tough for the entire pub industry and it's still a long road ahead for many operators. So, CUB raising $2 million for our industry is a real lifeline for many venues.

体育在线365 "Pubs are the heart of many Australian communities. Patrons are supporting them through For Love of Your Local which speaks volumes for the appreciation patrons have for their local hotel."

Updated at 10:07am AEST on 28 May 2020.

JobMaker: PM flags industrial relations review, skills overhaul

JobMaker: PM flags industrial relations review, skills overhaul

A review into Australia's approach to industrial relations (IR) and vocational training is central to Prime Minister Scott Morrison's plan to rebuild Australia's economy in the wake of COVID-19.

体育在线365 Addressing the National Press Club this afternoon, the PM announced the Government's new 'JobMaker' plan under which business will support the revitalisation of Australia's economy.

体育在线365 A review into the country's IR laws will be conducted by the Minister for Industrial Relations Christian Porter, bringing together employee representatives and government to charter a "practical reform agenda".

Five working groups chaired by Porter will develop the government's JobMaker plan, specifically targeting the following areas:

  • Award simplification;
  • Enterprise agreement making;
  • Casuals and fixed term employees;
  • Compliance and enforcement; and
  • Greenfields agreements for new enterprises.

Membership for each of the five working groups will include employer representatives, union representatives, and individuals chosen based on their demonstrated experience and expertise.

体育在线365 Morrison says the current IR framework in Australia needs to be overhauled to tackle the challenges faced by the economy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our industrial relations system has settled into a complacency of unions seeking marginal benefits and employers closing down the system," Morrison said.

"It is a system that has to date retreated to tribalism, conflict, and ideological posturing.

体育在线365 "This will need to change or more Australians will unnecessarily lose their jobs and more Australians will be kept out of jobs."

These processes will be time bound and run through to September.

The simplification of skills training for Australians is also a key tenant of the PM's plan to create jobs.

体育在线365 As it stands today, the PM describes the nation's training programs as "clunky" and "inconsistent" across states.

To resolve the issues the PM sees with training and skills nationally the Government has three areas of focus: faster development of programs, consistent pricing and funding of training programs, and the quality of the programs.

A series of 'skills organisational pilots' have already been established and tested by the Federal Government to address the problems identified by the PM.

体育在线365 These three pilot programs were for human services, digital technologies and mining. The PM says the fast-tracked human services pilot program has been leveraged during the COVID-19 recovery phase already to support an increased demand for these skills.

"It is no wonder that when faced with this complexity many potential students default to the University system, even if their career could be best enhanced through vocational education," the PM said.

"I want those trade and skills jobs to be aspired to, not looked down upon or seen as a second best option, it is a first best option."

The Government will also establish a National Skills Commission which will deliver detailed market analysis of the skills shortages in Australia and publish real time data on the labour market to flag emerging skills shortages.

The PM hopes this Commission will help students with developing careers while studying or choosing where to study and will enable those looking to upskill to best determine where the jobs actually are.

Updated 1:43pm AEST on 26 May 2020.


Coca-Cola Amatil loses fizz on beverage industry plunge

Coca-Cola Amatil loses fizz on beverage industry plunge

The Covid-19 cocktail has been a hard one to swallow for the beverages industry, given that most of the world's watering holes remain out of business.

Venues are suffering, and new data from Alcohol Beverages Australia has also revealed a steep decline in alcohol consumption that would normally take place at home gatherings.

It's little wonder Coca-Cola Amatil (ASX: CCL) has been stirred into the struggle.

In its April trading update, Coca-Cola reveals Covid-19 lockdown measures in April have taken a toll on the peak Easter ANZAC Day and Ramadan trading periods.

Although it outperformed the sector in terms of share growth, the company experienced a ~33 per cent nosedive in the total volume of beverages sold.

Group managing director Alison Watkins says Coca-Cola has experienced an "unprecedented disruption" to its business during the pandemic, but is optimistic in its recovery.

"At the time of our last Covid-19 update we noted significant volatility across channels and markets as the impacts of the pandemic started to take effect," she says.

"This has continued With many customers remaining closed or operating at significantly reduced capacity."

体育在线365 "Despite these challenges, our business has demonstrated resilience As the lockdown restrictions begin to ease and local economies begin a protracted recovery, we are seeing signs of modest improvement in trading conditions."

In its Australian market, Coca-Cola saw a 30 per cent decline in volume of sales across its 'non-alcoholic ready to drink' category versus April 2019.

Coca-Cola customers who buy 'on the go' declined 55 per cent on the prior corresponding period, while grocery shopping fell 10 per cent and the convenience and petroleum segment took a 20 per cent hit.

体育在线365 As lockdown restrictions ease in the coming months, the company expects its financial performance will improve at a similar rate.

体育在线365 Watkins says that the company's FY2020 performance hinges on its fourth quarter.

"Whilst it is encouraging to see lockdown restrictions gradually being eased and some green shoots of improvement in trading conditions emerge, the reality is that economic recovery will take time and uncertainty remains," she says.

"We have a clear path forward to weather the current conditions, noting that the fourth quarter of trading conditions will be imperative to our FY2020 financial performance."

The big dry: "Worst month on record" for alcohol sales

The big dry: "Worst month on record" for alcohol sales

Despite polls showing more Australians turned to the drink at home to alleviate coronavirus-related stress, data from the industry has uncorked a a dramatic decline in volume due to the closure of pubs, clubs and bars.

体育在线365 A report released over the weekend from Alcohol Beverages Australia (ABA) demonstrates Zoom parties failed to make up for the decline in alcohol consumption that would normally take place at household gatherings.

"Despite some initial pantry filling in March, April has been the worst month on record for sales of beer, wine and spirits, consistent with ABS data showing consumption has fallen during the COVID-19 crisis," says ABA chief executive officer Andrew Wilsmore.

体育在线365 "The biggest category, beer saw a 44 per cent drop in April and cider saw the biggest decline at 61 per cent due to the loss of social occasions."

The ABA claims the decline in alcohol sales reflects the sad reality that almost half a million jobs have been lost in hospitality and around $8.5 billion in business revenue has dried up.

"Wine producers are also reporting volume losses of up to 70 per cent among small and medium sized enterprises who rely on restaurants as their main route to market," says Wilsmore.

体育在线365 "Major wine brands suffered a small decline in April before falling 16 per cent in the first two weeks of May."

体育在线365 The sudden closure of distillery doors and regional tourism in late March led to revenue declines of up to 80 per cent for local distillers.

Wilsmore says spirit volumes were down 21 per cent in April while ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages dropped 37 per cent, representing both a tale of woe and resilience.

"We knew that the total loss of trade from pubs, bars, clubs, and restaurants was never going to be made up for by a brief, small surge in panic buying during the week people were concerned bottleshops would also close," he says.

National polling in april conducted by YouGov Galaxy, commissioned by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE), showed 20 per cent of Australians purchased more alcohol and 70 per cent of them were drinking more alcohol than normal.

One third of respondents to the poll were drinking alcohol on a daily basis.

体育在线365 But Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data illustrates the vast majority of people - more than than 85 per cent - are drinking responsibly during the pandemic, with their behaviours either unchanged or drinking less.

"The ABS data shows that 30 per cent of Australians are largely abstaining or not consuming alcohol; 47 per cent are drinking the same; and 10 per cent are drinking less. Only 14 per cent of Australians reported that their drinking had increased.," says Wilsmore.

"DrinkWise sought to dig deeper, commissioning independent research into Australian adults' experiences of purchasing alcohol and drinking at home, through a nationally representative sample of 1000 consumers.

"Of those who chose to drink, the research found that drinkers were maintaining average consumption of three standard drinks. Over the course of the week, this amounted to just over eight standard drinks in total - well within the official government guidelines."

He adds for Australians who reported their consumption of alcohol at home had increased, the vast majority continued to drink at moderate levels.

The industry representative explains his sector has been "the most severely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic".

体育在线365 "The loss of jobs and revenue in this sector has been crippling," he says.

"At the peak of isolation measures, 441,400 jobs had been lost in hotels, pubs, clubs, restaurants, cafes, takeaway, coffee shops, accommodation hotels and casinos. This represents a loss of a third of their total workforce.

"The hospitality sector has seen an $8.5 billion fall in revenue, which represents 10 per cent of their annual sales.

体育在线365 "The drinks industry was not immune to these employment effects, given its heavy reliance on hospitality and tourism, experiencing a 15.55% workforce decline that severely impacted the livelihoods of many Australians."

Updated at 12:20pm AEST on 25 May 2020.

Viva Leisure warms up ahead of gym reopenings

Viva Leisure warms up ahead of gym reopenings

Viva Leisure (ASX: VVA) has drawn down almost half its cash reserves during the COVID-19 lockdown, but at least some of that money has been put to use revamping its gyms for future business.

体育在线365 In a release today the company said $5 million had been spent on pre-closure creditors, as well as the acceleration of refurbishments, completion of sites under development and business improvements.

After listing on the ASX in mid-2019, the Canberra-based group has expanded from 33 to 83 locations through  expansion of its brands including Club Lime, Groundup, Gymmy Pt, Hiit Republic, Cycle Life and FitnFast, the latter acquired in mid-February.

In its release today the company highlighted the following upgrades:

  • Five of the 10 Queensland locations will re-open fully refurbished and with upgraded
  • Four locations currently under development/fit-out, two of which will be completed before
    re-opening, with the remaining two being Nunawading, Melbourne (to be completed in July 2020), and
    Pyrmont, Sydney (to be completed in late August 2020 at this stage); and
  • Two new locations have completed during the shutdown and are ready to open (Gungahlin
    Club Lime in ACT and Wagga Wagga Hiit Republic in NSW).

Viva Leisure now holds $6 million cash in the bank, excluding the May 2020 JobKeeper reimbursement which is expected to be approximately $950,000, as well as an undrawn overdraft facility of $6 million.

体育在线365 The company's Australian National University aquatic facilities already opened on Saturday, and the hydrotherapy facilities at the Canberra International Sports & Aquatic Centre were expected to open today.

体育在线365 Scheduled easings of restrictions on gyms in the ACT (30 May), QLD (12 June) and VIC (21 June) mean 70 per cent of Viva Leisure's locations have confirmed opening dates, while the group expects a NSW will be imminent. However, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has today said the state government is not in a position to make an announcement on a return to business for gyms just yet.

Fitness, wellness and beauty facilities take stock as Covid-19 restrictions come into play

It is expected that Stage 2 will continue to have restrictions in place, likely to be 20 members within the gym, or different parts of each gym at one time, the final details are not yet known.

体育在线365 The company notes while any restriction on members is not ideal, it has implemented systems including bookings and automated people counters which restrict entry into the facility to assist with this short-term restriction. Members will be able to determine how busy each location is before attending outside of booked times.

Stage 3 of easing restrictions contemplates allowing 100 people in a gym at the same time, which would mean Viva can operate most facilities at full capacity.

"As we commence the tenth week of the mandatory shutdown of our clubs, our team has been working overtime to ensure we are ready to open our doors as soon as permitted to do so," says Viva Leisure's CEO and managing director Harry Konstantinou.

体育在线365 "It is promising to know that over 70 per cent of our locations could be open within the next three to four weeks, albeit with some initial restrictions.

体育在线365 "The feedback from members we have received during this shutdown is encouraging, with a large percentage of members keen to get back into it."

体育在线365 Konstantinou says data from reopened overseas clubs is encouraging, with the majority seeing higher than expected attendance and new member signups.

体育在线365 "While the mandatory shutdown is not something any business wants, it has allowed our team to reset, recharge and be ready to go.

体育在线365 "As expected, significant opportunities are now in front of us, and with our strong balance sheet, we will capitalise on them."

Viva has also successfully renegotiated deferrals or reduced rental payments for 25 locations, resulting in a saving of $444,000 per month on cashflow for up to six months.

The group is still negotiating on 58 locations, however it has not paid rent on them and various landlords are waiting for gyms to reopen so that any arrangement can be agreed.

体育在线365 VVR shares are up 4.74 per cent so far this morning trading at $2.43 each.

Updated at 11:27am AEST on 25 May 2020.

Accounting errors led to $60 billion overvaluation of JobKeeper

Accounting errors led to $60 billion overvaluation of JobKeeper

The Treasury and Australian Tax Office (ATO) have drastically reduced their projected number of JobKeeper recipients by three million after it was revealed figures were inflated by mistakes on around 1,000 enrolment forms.

体育在线365 While these forms only represent 0.1 per cent of 910,055 submissions from businesses, they had a significant impact on the initial estimate that the program would cover around 6.5 million people. 

体育在线365 Now that figure has been reduced to 3.5 million, just slightly above the 2.9 million employees working for 759,654 businesses with $8.7 billion in approved payments to date. 

体育在线365 "The most common error was that instead of reporting the number of employees they expected to be eligible, they reported the amount of assistance they expected to receive," the two agencies said in a joint statement today.

体育在线365 "For example, over 500 businesses with '1' eligible employee reported a figure of '1,500' (which is the amount of JobKeeper payment they would expect to receive for each fortnight for that employee)."

The miscalculated projections had previously indicated around one in four Australians would be on JobKeeper, but that figure is now more like one in eight. 

The Treasury has revised the estimated cost of the JobKeeper program program to $70 billion, whereas it would have been worth around $130 billion before.

体育在线365 Neither the ATO nor the Treasury gave any indication the unexpected $60 billion saving would translate to a longer period for JobKeeper, however hypothetically it would equate to an approximate 22-week extension for 3.5 million people.

"This reporting error has come to light as the ATO and Treasury have been analysing the amounts being paid out under the scheme, reconciling these with the estimates provided by enrolled businesses of the likely number of eligible employees," the agencies said.

"It was not picked up by the ATO earlier as their primary focus in the first fortnight of JobKeeper payments was on ensuring that JobKeeper payments were paid promptly to those eligible for them, and not paid to those who were ineligible.

"These initial estimates from businesses of employees covered are not linked to payments, and so were not as carefully analysed."

The Treasury and ATO emphasise the reporting error has no consequences for JobKeeper payments that have already been made to eligible businesses.

体育在线365 The reason the impact is inconsequential for individual businesses is that payments are based on declarations made in relation to each and every employee.

"This declaration does not involve estimates and requires an employer to provide the tax file number for each eligible employee.

体育在线365 "By contrast, the only use of the information collected in respect of the reporting error was to provide an early estimate of the number of expected employees likely to access the JobKeeper program."

The agencies estimate around 150,000 enrolled businesses are yet to complete their employee declaration, which is required before payments can be made.

"Employers can still apply up to 31 May for payments made in April. Moreover the program will remain open to businesses that meet the eligibility criteria at any time over the 6 months it is in operation.

"JobKeeper is a demand driven program which was designed to support eligible employees in businesses that have experienced a significant fall in their turnover."

体育在线365 The agencies explain the original estimate was developed at a time when COVID-19 cases were growing significantly in Australia and restrictions were being tightened across Australia and much of the world.

"The difference between Treasury's estimates at the time and the number of employees now accessing the JobKeeper program partly reflects the level and impact of health restrictions not having been as severe as expected and their imposition not having been maintained for as long as expected at the time," the ATO and Treasury said.

"This has been reflected in some improvement to the outlook for the economy since the original estimate was developed as a consequence of these and other factors.

"The variation in estimates also reflects the inherent uncertainty associated with estimating the take-up of a demand driven program in the current circumstances."

What the reporting error doesn't change is the state of the labour market or the Treasury's projections for it. One in three Australians has either lost their job or had their working hours reduced体育在线365 since the pandemic began, 489,800 people have left the labour force, and unemployment rose by one percentage point to 6.2 per cent from March to April.

"It remains the case that in the absence of the JobKeeper program, Treasury expects the unemployment rate would have been around 5 percentage points higher," the agencies said.

"Treasury continues to expect the unemployment rate to reach around 10%, although as indicated by last week's Labour Force survey, the measured level of the unemployment is highly uncertain given the impact of social distancing restrictions on the participation rate."

The ATO has reminded employers they must declare their eligible employees monthly on an ongoing basis in order to receive JobKeeper payments, with May declarations having to be made by the 14 June.

The Treasurer also highlighted today that ratings agency Fitch has reaffirmed Australia's AAA credit rating, representing an expression of confidence in the Morrison Government's handling of the coronavirus crisis, as well as its demonstrated record of economic management and "commitment to fiscal prudence".

"Today's report confirms Australia as one of only 10 countries with a AAA credit rating from all three major ratings agencies," Treasurer Frydenberg said.

"In its report, Fitch notes that Australia's "effective macroeconomic policy framework, has supported a long record of stable economic growth prior to the current exogenous shock" and that "substantial fiscal and monetary policy stimulus" has been put in place "which should soften the shock and support the economic recovery"," he said.

"Fitch's action today, in reaffirming our AAA rating, is a reminder of the importance of maintaining our commitment to medium term fiscal sustainability."

Updated at 3:25pm AEST on 22 May 2020.

Up to 50 patrons allowed in NSW pubs, restaurants and cafes from 1 June

Up to 50 patrons allowed in NSW pubs, restaurants and cafes from 1 June

From 1 June up to 50 patrons will be allowed in New South Wales pubs, restaurants, clubs and cafes.

Strict regulations will be enforced on hospitality businesses, and those that are non-compliant will face the possibility of being closed down once again.

The four square metre per person rule will still apply, and customers at venues must be seated to be served.

体育在线365 Shared food, drinks and cutlery will be off the table for the time being in order to maintain strict hygiene standards.

体育在线365 Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the announcement is a major step for the state.

"New South Wales will be taking an important, critical and big step from the first of June," Berejiklian said.

"But the regulations and rules we will be putting in place will be very strict to make sure safety is paramount.

"And we have a no regrets policy, firstly in keeping the community safe, making sure everything we do is to protect lives and save lives, but also in relation to making sure people aren't long term unemployed, and that we can bounce back from the devastating economic shock."

These lifted restrictions on pubs, cafes and restaurants will come into force on the same day that the state is easing restrictions on intrastate travel.

Deputy Premier John Barilaro says the eased restrictions will be welcomed not only by businesses in Sydney, but also by regional areas where hospitality companies are gearing up for the long weekend and an influx of intrastate travellers.

"Today's announcement will allow regional businesses and economies to embrace, with the opening up of travel, the opportunity for businesses right into the June long weekend to fill their registers," Barilaro said.

"We know this industry is so important, right across the state. More than a quarter of a million people are employed in the hospitality sector, and we know, with the losses that we've seen in employment, this is a sector that could quickly put jobs back into the economy, and that is why the New South Wales Government ... are taking a mighty big step to make sure that our venues can open to embrace the visitors to come to regional and rural New South Wales."

Related: Three more months under current conditions the limit for nearly half of restaurants

体育在线365 NSW is the first state to go to 50 patrons in a venue, and follows announcements from Victoria and South Australia where the patron limit is slowly rising.

South Australia today will allow up to 20 patrons in a venue - 10 seated inside and 10 seated outside - and restaurants and cafes will be allowed to serve alcohol. Pubs in the state will be permitted to reopen on 5 June, but guidelines regarding numbers of patrons are yet to be announced.

Victoria announced on 17 May体育在线365 that from 1 June pubs, cafes and restaurants will be permitted to reopen with a 20-customer limit. 

The announcement comes as NSW reports three new cases of COVID-19 today, bringing the state's total to 3,084.

Victoria has reported 12 new cases today, and Queensland zero new cases, bringing the national total to 7,095.

In total, 6,481 people have recovered from the coronavirus, with eight new recoveries today.

体育在线365 There are currently 509 active cases of COVID-19 in Australia.

Updated at 1:15pm AEST on 22 May 2020.

Three more months under current conditions the limit for nearly half of restaurants

Three more months under current conditions the limit for nearly half of restaurants

New research released today by hospitality service provider Silver Chef and research group InKind reveals just 52 per cent of restaurant owners believe they can survive the next three months.

体育在线365 If current COVID-19 restrictions stay in place confidence for survival will deteriorate as time progresses.

Just 67 per cent of surveyed owners think their businesses can see out another month under the current COVID-19 conditions.

Faith fades as time goes on, with 60 per cent saying they can survive another two months from today, and only 52 per cent for another three months.

These concerning figures are complemented by the finding that the majority of restaurant owners (75 per cent) believe that it will be longer than six months before business returns to pre-COVID-19 levels.

According to Silver Chef's research Australian restaurants and other hospitality businesses chose to fight on during the worst of restrictions.

Just three in 10 businesses completely closed during COVID-19, with 63 per cent still operating as either pickup and/or delivery.

Hot food (56 per cent) and beverages (43 per cent) are the key products being offered via takeaway and delivery, but close to a third chose to provide produce/deli items and cook it yourself meals as an option.

体育在线365 More than a third of hospitality businesses have been operating with less than 10 per cent of their usual teams, with 70 per cent of businesses have accessing JobKeeper to remain in operation.

There is hope on the horizon though as Australian states begin to allow restaurants and other hospitality businesses to reopen under customer number limitations.

These limitations are likely to be eased as the COVID-19 situation gets better.

Interestingly, both the South Australian and Victorian Premiers have noted recently that allowing hospitality businesses to reopen with just ten patrons is unrealistic from a financial point of view for most restaurants, bars and cafes.

This change in the landscape has been reflected by Silver Chef's research, with 71 per cent of businesses believing that innovation will be critical moving forward, with the hospitality industry as a whole needing to become more creative to entice customers to spend.

体育在线365 40 per cent of surveyed owners actually believe that their business will become more resilient in the future because of how COVID-19 has forced them to implement diversified revenue streams (e-commerce and takeaway being two key new streams) that were put in place during lockdowns.

Updated at 12:08pm AEST on 22 May 2020.

NT hits milestone with zero active cases of COVID-19

NT hits milestone with zero active cases of COVID-19

The Northern Territory has today announced there are zero active cases of COVID-19 within its jurisdiction.

While this is certainly a milestone for Territorians to celebrate, Health Minister Natasha Fyles has stressed complacency is not an option.

Speaking at a press conference this morning, Fyles said it had been six and a half weeks since the Territory's last diagnosed case of COVID-19.

体育在线365 "We are a safe bubble and we need to keep it that way," says Fyles.

体育在线365 "We have a very vulnerable community, a very vulnerable population particularly with our Aboriginal Territorians and so I urge all Territorians to not become complacent off the back of this."

Fyles' update comes just under two weeks before the NT plans on easing intra-territory travel体育在线365, which will allow residents to move around the Territory.

Despite pressure from other state governments Fyles says that travel into the NT from other Australian states is not something on the table just yet.

"We must remain vigilant," says Fyles.

体育在线365 "During that time, we know that coronavirus spreads so quickly and because symptoms are so mild people don't realise that they have coronavirus and they could be spreading it in our community.

"As time goes on we will see those measures around interstate travel and international travel ease, but it will be based on clinical advice around this virus."

The news comes as the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases globally have surpassed 5 million. 

In Australia there are 7,081 total confirmed cases of the coronavirus, including six new cases confirmed today.

体育在线365 A total of 6,473 people have recovered from COVID-19 in Australia, and there are 504 total active cases.

Photo via jeremydxg on .

Updated at 10:04am AEST on 21 May 2020.

April sees sharpest fall in retail turnover on record

April sees sharpest fall in retail turnover on record

April's retail trade figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today show the strongest seasonally adjusted fall ever published.

Retail turnover fell by 17.9 per cent in April 2020, and follows the strongest ever seasonally adjusted rise in March 2020 which was largely the result of stockpiling.

Not a single retail sector was spared, with particularly strong falls recorded in food retailing, cafes, restaurants, clothing, footwear and personal accessories.

The figures are the direct result of COVID-19 restrictions implemented nationally in a bid to slow the spread of infections of the coronavirus.

While March saw a mix of impacts related to COVID-19 across industries, these impacts were overwhelmingly negative in April, as regulations regarding social distancing measures limited the ability of businesses to trade as normal for the entire month," says the ABS.

体育在线365 "Cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services, clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing, and department stores fell heavily in April and there were no offsetting rises in the other industries.

"Turnover in clothing, footwear and personal accessory retailing, and cafes, restaurants and takeaways is around half the level of April 2019."

The food retailing sector, which saw a significant rise in March due to "unprecedented" demand, fell 17.1 per cent in April.

Via: ABS

In seasonally adjusted terms Australian retail turnover fell 9.4 per cent in April 2020 compared with April 2019.

Analysis of supermarket and grocery store scanner data shows that monthly retail turnover fell in original terms for non-perishable goods, perishable goods and all other products by 23.7 per cent, 15.3 per cent and 24.5 per cent respectively in April 2020 compared to March 2020.

These falls follow significant unprecedented demand in March 2020 where non-perishable goods rose 39 per cent, perishable goods rose 21.6 per cent and all other products rose 30.5 per cent.

Turnover in clothing, footwear and personal accessories in April 2020 was around half the level of April 2019.

Updated at 2:47PM AEST on 20 May 2020.

South Australia to lift restrictions earlier than planned

South Australia to lift restrictions earlier than planned

After reporting zero active cases of COVID-19 in South Australia on Friday, the State Government has decided to accelerate its plan to lift restrictions.

From Friday restaurants and cafes will be able to entertain 20 guests - 10 seated inside and 10 seated outside - and serve alcohol.

SA will also be moving to its second stage of easing restrictions earlier than planned.

Stage 2 will now come into effect on Friday 5 June, three days earlier than originally envisioned.

The specifics of what exactly will be allowed on 5 June are still being organised by medical officials and will be announced closer to the date, but the State Government has confirmed that all pubs across the state will be permitted to open.

体育在线365 The Premier says the lifting of restrictions on 5 June will be outlined in a "principles-based approach" in the coming days.

体育在线365 The changes will mean more SA businesses are able to operate over the June long weekend.

"I think everybody knows that we have done extraordinarily well in Australia in managing the health crisis and in particular in South Australia we have done an outstanding job," Premier Steven Marshall said this morning.

体育在线365 "We know that the economic crisis is really hitting the people of our state, the businesses of our state, the families here in South Australia; people have lost jobs. So we really have got to get the balance right."

"We have listened to what the people of South Australia have they want to move to stage two sooner than the Monday of the long weekend. We know that it would be great for regional South Australia. We know it would be great for businesses in metropolitan Adelaide."


体育在线365 When the State's roadmap for easing COVID-19 restrictions was announced earlier this month Stage 2 envisioned the reopening of the following with a capacity of 20 people:

  • Cinemas and theatres
  • Seated dining
  • Galleries and museums
  • Beauty, nails, tattoo, massage (non-therapeutic)
  • Driving instruction lessons
  • Gyms and indoor fitness
  • Funerals (50 max)
  • Sports transition to competition without spectators, including indoor sports

The announcement comes as Australia only has nine people in ICU for COVID-19 treatment.

1.1 million tests have been conducted, and there have been 11 new cases of COVID-19 today to a total of 7,079. Four of these cases were in NSW, seven in VIC, and one in QLD.

Updated at 11:48am AEST on 20 May 2020.

Sydney Airport traffic crashes 97.5 per cent

Sydney Airport traffic crashes 97.5 per cent

Traffic figures released today by Sydney Airport (ASX: SYD) reveal a drastic fall in passenger numbers in April due to travel restrictions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The airport reports total traffic fell 97.5 per cent year-on-year to 92,000 passengers, of which 43,000 were domestic and 49,000 were international.

体育在线365 The reduction for domestic travel was slightly more pronounced at 97.9 per cent, compared to the 96.9 per cent fall for international travellers. 

体育在线365 But what is also telling about this crisis is that the number of domestic passengers was only slightly higher than for their international counterparts, whereas normally the figures for domestic are almost two-thirds higher. 

体育在线365 "We expect the downturn in passenger traffic to persist until government travel restrictions are eased," the airport said.

Australians continued to be the leading nationality of passengers, followed by the UK which was ranked fifth in April 2019. China fell one spot to third in terms of nationality, and was followed by South Korea (7th in April 2019) and Germany (outside Top 10 in pcp).

体育在线365 The Top 10 nationalities travelling through the airport is completed by Japan, France, the USA, Canada and New Zealand, the latter holding third place this time last year.

According to an update released last month, Sydney Airport has a combined liquidity of $2.8 billion split by $430 million in available cash, $1.75 billion of undrawn bank facilities and approximately $600 million of new USPP bond market debt.

"This is comfortably in excess of the $1.3 billion of debt maturing in the next 12 months and the $150 million to $200 million of expected capital expenditure over the same period. We also expect to remain compliant with our covenant requirements," the group said at the time.

体育在线365 "Given the strength of our balance sheet and liquidity position, at this time we do not see the need to raise equity."

体育在线365 Photo: Kurt Ams

Updated at 10:26am AEST on 20 May 2020.

Intrastate travel restrictions to be lifted from 1 June in NSW

Intrastate travel restrictions to be lifted from 1 June in NSW

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has encouraged residents to get out and visit the state's regions when intrastate travel restrictions are lifted on 1 June.

Timed just one week before the Queen's Birthday long weekend, Berejiklian hopes people will take a "well-earned holiday" and stimulate the state's hardest hit regions.

体育在线365 "This is the day we've all been looking forward to since the COVID-19 travel restrictions were put in place earlier this year and I would like to thank everyone for their patience during the past few months of being cooped up at home," Berejiklian said.

体育在线365 "I must stress to everyone that, while we want people to enjoy a well-earned holiday, we must do this responsibly and continue to abide by physical distancing measures, as the last thing we want is further outbreaks that will force us to reintroduce restrictions."

体育在线365 Deputy Premier John Barilaro says the lifting of intrastate travel restrictions will be welcomed with open arms by communities in NSW who have been decimated by both the bushfires and now COVID-19 restrictions.

体育在线365 "COVID could not have come at a worse time for regional NSW, with towns already doing it tough due to bushfires and drought and so I encourage everyone to make plans to safely and responsibly visit their favourite regional holiday destination, or discover a new one," Barilaro said.

"I encourage holidaymakers to visit local businesses, enjoy local attractions and feast on the best food regional NSW has to offer, and for those not able to get away in June, to start making plans for later in the year when even more businesses will be open.

体育在线365 "I'm very pleased to share that this means we will have a ski season this year, however holidaymakers should be aware that ski resorts will likely need time to put COVID plans into place and you should make contact before visiting."

体育在线365 In addition to intrastate travel restrictions being lifted, museums, art galleries and other cultural institutions will reopen on 1 June.

Berejiklian has once again emphasised that NSW's borders are still open, saying it is imperative that the State's economy keeps on ticking.

"Of course, New South Wales is always open to welcome people from other states, we intend to keep our borders open," says Berejiklian.

体育在线365 "We think that's best for New South Wales but also best for Australia and we will play our part as the largest state, as traditionally the economic powerhouse of the nation, to make sure we generate as much economic activity as possible in a safe environment."

Berejiklian says the decision to lift intrastate travel restrictions comes as the data being recorded about COVID-19 infections proves to be promising.

体育在线365 "At this stage the numbers are so small that we're very comfortable with the steps we're taking," says Berejiklian.

体育在线365 "Even the community transmission is less than what we anticipated at this time.

"But it doesn't come without risk, and our measure of success shouldn't be a small number of cases every day because we won't be able to maintain that."

Updated at 9:46am AEST on 20 May 2020.

Job sharing portal BenchOn sees spike in SME sign-ups

Job sharing portal BenchOn sees spike in SME sign-ups

With Australian talent sharing platform BenchOn reporting a 275 per cent increase in remote work opportunities, founder and CEO Tim Walmsley believes portals that reallocate jobs will help the economy bounce back faster, especially in regional areas.

体育在线365 After making its name supporting large corporates and government agencies, this month BenchOn's proprietary technology went live in a national first for the Toowoomba Regional Council in Queensland. 

体育在线365 Through an initiative supported by Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise, the platform allows businesses to temporarily 'loan' their excess staff to companies experiencing a temporary increase in demand.

体育在线365 Walmsley hopes the development will be replicated elsewhere, and says he has proposed the model to the Federal Government in a bid to "save as many jobs as possible".

"If we strengthen businesses and provide them more opportunity to keep their people, then it creates a more resilient economy that will bounce back much faster, rather than just moving people wherever the demand is and not having any continuity of employment," he tells Business News Australia.

"Through COVID-19 companies are starting to realise that they can get a lot of work done just through video conferencing and trusting people."

体育在线365 The entrepreneur has observed a large increase in talent sharing for professional services and consultants.

"Companies that are having this unprecedented demand are starting to realise they need these higher-level skill sets to support their work, and they're putting out more contracts to do it," says Walmsley.

"The industries are still nowhere near where they were in terms of demands pre-COVID, but they're starting now to put their feelers out.

体育在线365 "We firmly believe that we should be allocating as much of this work now to small businesses across Australia so that we can keep them going, so that we don't eradicate our entire small business base and are left with a very hollow industry at the end of it."

He notes workers from hospitality and tourism in particular are moving into other industries to improve their stability, and he fears this may make the recovery "that much harder on the other side" for sectors of the economy that have already been badly hit.

体育在线365 "That's why we've got our model which allows the company not only to reallocate that person to a task, potentially in another industry or with another business using a skill they might not have been employed for, but it maintains their employee relationship," he explains.

"The portals are definitely our key driver for growth, because those portals are gateways for large companies to allocate their workload directly to SMEs."

"We've seen massive spikes in signups, particularly in the SME space. We've had days here we've had 50 companies a day signing up."

Can remote work job sharing to boost regional economies?

Walmsley is excited about the new portal in Toowoomba as local companies will be able to sign up and share talent locally first, but the platform will also tap employers in the area into national networks.

"It brings in more work from companies all across the country by linking them through the BenchOn national network," he says.

"We can not only stabilise regional jobs, but we can also bring more work in from the cities in order to grow regional jobs, which is something really important that we're very passionate about."

He says the platform will enable accurate reporting on how many regional jobs can be saved by secondment or sub-contracting.

"My question is how many skilled people are sitting in our regions, and the only reason that they're not being productive in our economy is because they haven't been given the opportunity?

体育在线365 "I think we're now going to see more of a focus on how do we allocate work in a more fair and efficient manner across the whole industry, rather than just allocating it to the larger companies that they've always just gone to."

TSBE CEO Ali Davenport says the economy is facing unprecedented stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and in this time of disruption there has never been a greater need for collaboration by sharing staff to manage the unpredictable troughs and spikes in demand.

"BenchOn has the ability to allocate business opportunities swiftly from businesses who are temporarily experiencing increased demand, to businesses who are experiencing a downturn or who have the capacity to support," she said.

体育在线365 "This platform will also benefit local recruitment firms and labour agencies by allowing them to make their talent available for suitable contract roles.

"It will essentially notify them when an opportunity is available that suits their business specialisation, which they can then choose to respond to."

Other partnerships highlighted by Walmsley include a jobs sharing portal with Anywise Consulting to support SME jobs in the defence and professional services sector, as well as for South Korea's Hanwha Defense.

"They [Hanwha] have just entered the Australian market and they're bidding on around $17 billion worth of work over the next five years," he says.

"It's their policy that they want all of their work to go to Australian businesses, so they've created an industry portal with BenchOn so that they can allocate all of the work that they win to Australian companies that have signed up to their portal."

Growth through shifting the business model

BenchOn has only been in existence for just over 3.5 years, and when Business News Australia体育在线365 profiled Walmsley in October 2017 the company had hosted more than $20 million worth of contracts.

Now the group is supporting thousands of businesses and processing more than $100 million worth of contracts.

体育在线365 "In the early days when we built the platform the idea was to create a national network of companies to manage supply and demand. We had a whole bunch of small to medium businesses sign up to try and make that work," said Walmsley.

体育在线365 "But what we realised was that even though every business has peaks and troughs in their workload, if you look at it generally the large enterprises and corporates are where all the demand is at because they have the ability to go and win large programs of work. 

"Small to medium businesses are where all the oversupply is because they don't have that ability to go out and win work whenever they need it."

He says this led to a mismatch, so in 2018 BenchOn pivoted towards enterprise software, working with pilot companies including big four banks and big four consulting companies to better understand their sourcing and pain points.

体育在线365 "We built a number of products that suit large companies to manage sourcing support from large pools of companies, and we launched those at the beginning of 2019 - they included internal employee matching," says Walmsley.

体育在线365 "For large companies that have thousands of staff and multiple divisions, we would hear stories about one division was laying off 25 project managers because a program ended, but then another division would be recruiting for 15 project managers.

"They were paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in recruitment fees when they actually had those people there and they were actually firing those people at the same time."

This didn't make any sense in Walmsley's view, so his team created a system whereby if a job is needed within a company, existing employees will be prioritised in order to maximise productivity and job stability while ascertaining where true talent shortages lie before looking externally.

体育在线365 "Once they've done that and looked at their own internal staff, we've then provided another product called supplier panel management," he says.

体育在线365 "Large companies normally have supplier panels of companies maybe 10, 20 or 30 companies - that they normally go to when they need support.

体育在线365 "But those large companies, no matter how much technology and everything they had, they were still managing those supply panels manually with emails and phone calls and Excel spreadsheets. It was just very inefficient."

体育在线365 The solution was to bring in those suppliers on a BenchOn profile, allocate them to a specific supplier panel, and then manage that panel digitally within the one system.

体育在线365 "What we found there was that sped up sourcing time from six to eight weeks, which is what our pilot customers were telling us it takes to fill a position and it dropped it right down to one day," says Walmsley.

This relatively instant matching was well received by companies and government organisations alike, and was the impetus for the kind of branded portals that are now on offer with the Toowoomba Regional Council and Anywise Consulting.

体育在线365 The entrepreneur aims for these platforms to play a key role in the next steps for the economy, which he sees as opening up again slowly.

"But it'll be a longer slower recovery than a lot of people think. Just because they lift the restrictions doesn't mean everything's going to go back to normal," he says.

"Companies are now already looking at new ways of working and how they can be more flexible and agile. We will see a greater proportion of work that's being allocated remotely."

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Business News Australia

NSW approves $160m facelift for St Leonards

NSW approves $160m facelift for St Leonards

体育在线365 The NSW Government has given the nod to rezoning proposals from the North Sydney Council that will bring a range of residential and commercial developments to the suburb of St Leonards.

The approval forms part of a fast-tracked assessment program from the state government to keep people in jobs and the economy moving through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Proposals include 500 new homes to be built, along with new retail outlets, cafés, restaurants, and new and upgraded public parks.

The rezoning approvals include:

  • 575-583 Pacific Highway: the site has been rezoned to allow for an 18-storey residential tower that will retain the local heritage of the existing building façade. The proposal will create 63 jobs and inject $31.4 million in to the economy;
  • 100 Christie Street: the rezoning will provide an upgrade to Christie Street Reserve and allow a 36-storey residential and commercial tower to be built, replacing the existing office building. It will create 164 jobs and inject $82.2 million in to the economy; and
  • 23-35 Atchison Street: the site can now accommodate a 16-storey building, provided a new park is created along Oxley Street and Hume Street Park is upgraded. It will create 92 jobs and inject $46 million in to the local economy.

"St Leonards already boasts a thriving commercial sector and these approvals will pave the way for more people to live close to where they work in a vibrant community hub," says NSW Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes.

"In the past two weeks alone, the Planning System Acceleration Program has injected more than $2.4 billion into the state's economy and created opportunities for more than 17,500 jobs.

"The NSW Government has all hands-on deck to ensure ongoing investment in our state and to help provide as many jobs as possible."

体育在线365 To be considered for an accelerated assessment, the development application (DA) or rezoning must already be progressed within the planning system, deliver a public benefit, demonstrate an ability to create jobs, and be able to commence construction or lodge a DA within six months.

Updated at 12:04pm AEST on 19 May 2020.

Qantas, Jetstar embark on "Fly Well" Covid-safe protocols ahead of relaxed restrictions

Qantas, Jetstar embark on "Fly Well" Covid-safe protocols ahead of relaxed restrictions

体育在线365 Optional complimentary masks and sanitising wipes are among the new frills passengers can expect from a COVID-safe program to be rolled out by Qantas (ASX: QAN) and its subsidiary Jetstar as they clear the runway for an easing of domestic travel restrictions.

体育在线365 Dubbed the "Fly Well" program and based on the Qantas' Group's temporary measures for repatriation flights from virus hot-spots, the range of measures will be rolled out from 12 June.

The program has been designed to give passengers peace-of-mind with contributions from best-practice medical advice and customer feedback.

体育在线365 "Safety is absolutely core to how we operate and that applies to new challenges like managing the risk of coronavirus so people can fly with confidence," says Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce.

"From the early rescue flights we operated right into Wuhan and then more recently bringing Australians back from places like the US and Europe, we have a lot of experience at creating a safe cabin environment for passengers and crew.

"We're relying on the cooperation of passengers to help make these changes work for everyone's benefit, and we thank them in advance for that. Given the great job Australians have done at flattening the curve, we're confident they'll respond positively to these temporary changes to how we fly."

He says the company will continue to work with the government and monitor the roll-out of these measures closely, while the group's medical director Dr Ian Hosegood claims the data shows the actual risk of catching coronavirus on an aircraft is already extremely low.

体育在线365 "That's due to a combination of factors, including the cabin air filtration system, the fact people don't sit face-to-face and the high backs of aircraft seats acting as a physical barrier," Dr Hosegood says.

"As far as the virus goes, an aircraft cabin is a very different environment to other forms of public transport.

"Social distancing on an aircraft isn't practical the way it is on the ground, and given the low transmission risk on board, we don't believe it's necessary in order to be safe. The extra measures we're putting place will reduce the risk even further."

The air conditioning systems of all Qantas and Jetstar aircraft are already fitted with hospital-grade HEPA filters, which the group says remove 99.9 per cent of all particles including viruses. Air inside the cabin is refreshed on average every five minutes during flight.

体育在线365 Key measures of Fly Well include:


  • Information sent to all customers before they fly, so they know what to expect;
  • Contactless check-in (via online/app) and self-serve bag drop strongly encouraged, including use of Q Bag Tags;
  • Hand sanitising stations at departure gates;
  • Temporary changes to Qantas Lounges, including increased physical distancing, hand sanitising stations, enhanced disinfection of surfaces and adjustments to food and drink service; and
  • Working with airports on other safeguards in the terminal, including regular disinfection of security screening points and installing hygiene screens at airline customer service desks, wherever practical.

On board

  • Masks provided to all passengers on each flight while not mandatory from a safety point of view, they are recommended to be worn in the interests of everyone's peace-of-mind;
  • Enhanced cleaning of aircraft with a disinfectant effective against Coronaviruses, with a focus on high contact areas seats, seatbelts, overhead lockers, air vents and toilets;
  • Sanitising wipes given to all passengers to wipe down seat belts, trays and armrests themselves, if preferred;
  • Simplified service and catering to minimise touchpoints for crew and passengers;
  • Passengers asked to limit movement around cabin, once seated; and
  • Sequenced boarding and disembarkation to minimise crowding.

Updated at 11:37am AEST on 19 May 2020.

Queensland Government launches $100 million small business grant program

Queensland Government launches $100 million small business grant program

Small businesses in Queensland can now apply for grants worth up to $10,000 to help soften the blow from COVID-19.

The $100 million program comes as Queensland announces a raft of stimulus initiatives that will go toward community developments, the tourism industry, community legal services and roadworks.

This new grant follows the lead of New South Wales and Victoria, which announced similar $10,000 schemes in April and May respectively.

Queensland's grants have been developed to assist those small businesses forced into hibernation to restructure or to significantly change their operations, including assistance with moving online.

体育在线365 "Small businesses represent 97 per cent of all businesses and employ over 970,000 people or 45 per cent of the State's private sector workforce," says Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

"We know small businesses have been doing it really tough due to the pandemic.

体育在线365 "With the first stage of our recovery roadmap in place, we want to make sure our thousands of small businesses have the support they need to recover and keep Queenslanders in jobs."

Queensland Minister for Employment and Small Business Shannon Fentiman says the new grants can be used to help pay for financial, legal or other professional advice, marketing and communications activities and digital or technology strategy development.

体育在线365 The grants can also be used to buy specialised digital equipment or business-specific software to move businesses online.

"Many events, workplaces, classes and sales have moved online and small businesses need to make sure they have the tools and resources to be competitive in these challenging times," says Fentiman.

体育在线365 "We also realise that businesses may not currently have the financial resources to co-fund, so we won't require matched funding which will better support our local businesses."

体育在线365 The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) has welcomed the grant scheme, saying it will provide some much-needed immediate cash support to Queensland's small businesses.

"We have been calling on the Government to provide grants and are very pleased to see their support given to businesses through these funds," CQIC general manager of advocacy and policy Amanda Rohan said.

"There is no denying how hard it is for business at the moment, and these cash grants will be a provide an opportunity for them to invest and look at ways to keep operating.

体育在线365 "Our small business sector is vital to Queensland's economy."

For information on how to apply and eligibility, visit . 

Queensland economic recovery plan revealed

体育在线365 The new small business grants form the Queensland Government's economic recovery strategy called Unite and Recover for Queensland Jobs.

体育在线365 In addition to the $100 million small business grants, the Queensland Government will deliver assistance to a range of industries including:

  • $50 million for the tourism industry
  • $200 million for local community projects (including new, upgraded or refurbished public amenities)
  • $119 million for community legal services
  • $400 million for roadwork projects
  • $50 million for essential medical supplies manufacturing

体育在线365 "The way we have united in the face of an immense and unprecedented challenge has been extraordinary, and all Queenslanders have done a mighty job in beating what just 11 weeks ago were daunting odds," the Premier said.

体育在线365 "The patient has been stabilised, so now it's time to start down the road to recovery and recuperation.

体育在线365 "The package of measures I am announcing today focuses on building the infrastructure we need for the future and accelerating construction projects to protect jobs now."

Updated at 11:37am AEST on 19 May 2020.

Queensland border could be closed until September

Queensland border could be closed until September

As COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease nationally many Australians are wondering when they might be able to book a holiday interstate.

If you ask the Prime Minister it seems he is looking for interstate travel to be back on the cards by July, according to the Federal Government's national framework.

体育在线365 But Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk (pictured) is a bit more reluctant to move that fast, suggesting her state's border may not reopen until September.

Speaking to ABC News Breakfast this morning, Palaszczuk said Queensland is taking a cautious approach when it comes to its borders.

"Look, I have to get the advice of the chief health officer," Palaszczuk said.

体育在线365 "I would say that things would look more positive towards September. Having said that, I don't want to rule anything out. I will give you that advice at the end of May as quickly as possible."

体育在线365 Palaszczuk's stance comes days after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian encouraged states to reopen borders.

体育在线365 "I'd probably feel offended if they told me how to do my job," Berejiklian said.

"But I often joke with the Queensland Premier that I'll end up going to Auckland before I go to Brisbane if we continue the way we are going."

Updated at 10:49am AEST on 18 May 2020.

Victoria announces $2.7 billion construction program

Victoria announces $2.7 billion construction program

Victoria will embark on a large-scale construction program worth $2.7 billion to enable businesses and workers to bounce back from the COVID-19 economic crisis.

The investment will fund hundreds of projects across several sectors and result in thousands of jobs for Victorians, according to Premier Daniel Andrews.

体育在线365 None of these projects are anticipated to be major projects, but rather ones that can get off the ground in the next three to six months.

These include maintenance and upgrades of public housing, road maintenance, train stations and education facilities.

体育在线365 "It's very, very important that we underpin demand that we give to tradies and so many other across the economy that sense of absolute certainty and confidence that this work is here, and it is here right now," Andrews said.

"There's never been a better time for us to invest in these jobs."

The State's Working for Victoria program will be a key element of this investment and will attempt to connect those who have recently lost work with the small construction firms that require labourers to undertake these projects.

体育在线365 "This is about jobs and building infrastructure that we need: small projects, projects that can be delivered quickly that are not going to sit around being designed and planned for years," says Andrews.

"We're ready to go with this and it'll be great."

Of the $2.7 billion investment, $1.18 billion will be specifically targeted at education projects.

体育在线365 This will result in 1,600 new jobs and the creation of 21,000 student places at schools around the State.

The education arm of the investment will result in the biggest school building project Victoria has undertaken.

体育在线365 Ultimately, 10 new schools will be constructed in addition to 57 school upgrades and 250 relocatable buildings.

The announcement comes as Victoria reports 1,567 cases of COVID-19, including six new cases.

体育在线365 Two of those new cases are from the McDonald's cluster, while three are currently in hotel isolation.

体育在线365 As of this morning there are two new cases in Queensland and one in New South Wales bringing the total number of new cases nationally to 11.

There are 7,054 cases of COVID-19 in Australia, 99 total deaths and 6,395 recoveries.

Updated at 10:14am AEST on 18 May 2020.

McDonald's shuts 12 stores after truck driver tests positive

McDonald's shuts 12 stores after truck driver tests positive

McDonald's Australia has temporarily shut 12 stores in Victoria after a delivery truck driver tested positive to COVID-19.

体育在线365 The Department of Health has identified the truck driver as a workplace close contact of the previously announced case at a McDonald's in Craigieburn.

The Age体育在线365 reports the Craigieburn employee was an extended family member of a worker at the McDonald's in Fawkner, where a cluster has extended to 12 reported cases.

体育在线365 "The truck driver made deliveries to 12 restaurants and interacted with a small number of restaurant employees on each occasion while asymptomatic and unaware they had contracted COVID-19," says a McDonald's spokesperson.

"Potential close contacts and employees who have worked specific shifts during and after the truck drivers' [sic] delivery have been instructed not to return to work for 14 days and advised to be tested."

McDonald's Australia has confirmed no other employees have tested positive for COVID-19 at this time.

"However, out of an abundance of caution, we have made the decision to close and conduct a deep clean of 12 restaurants in Victoria, following confirmation a truck driver for an external service provider has tested positive for COVID-19.

"McDonald's Australia has taken this significant action in the best interests of the health and safety of our employees and our customers.

体育在线365 "We will open each of the restaurants following completion of the deep clean and pending the availability of replacement crew."

体育在线365 The restaurant chain advises the following restaurants have been closed:

1.      Melton East

2.      Laverton North

3.      Yallambie

4.      Taylors Lakes

5.      Campbellfield

6.      Sunbury

体育在线365 7.      Hoppers Crossing

8.      Riverdale Village

体育在线365 9.      Sandown

10.   Calder Highway Northbound/Outbound

体育在线365 11.   Calder Highway Southbound/Inbound

12.   BP Rockbank Service Centre Outbound

With regards to the other main cluster in the state, Victorian health authorities yesterday reported 99 cases related to the Cedar Meats outbreak.

The department is also working with Domino's in Fairfield and The Comfort Group in Deer Park, where an infectious case has attended, or a case may have acquired coronavirus.

Updated at 10:12am AEST on 18 May 2020.

Victoria's cafes, restaurants and pubs to reopen with 20-customer limit from 1 June

Victoria's cafes, restaurants and pubs to reopen with 20-customer limit from 1 June

Six days ago when Australians in many states and territories were frothing to soon go back to the pub, have dinner out of home or celebrate being allowed to sit down with a morning coffee, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) had a more sobering message.

He explained the feedback from hospitality venues had been overwhelming - 10 patrons at a time, which is the benchmark for Step 1 of reopening guidelines, just doesn't work.  

体育在线365 "If we wait those three weeks when we move to go beyond just takeaway for cafés and restaurants, we might not have to stick with a number of 10. We might be able to go higher than that," Premier Andrews said at the time.

体育在线365 Today, even as the state tries to keep two COVID-19 clusters under control with 89 new cases recorded over the past seven days, the Premier has delivered on his word.

"After smashing through our goal of 50,000 tests in the last week, the results of this data has given us the confidence we need to plan to slowly start lifting some more restrictions," he said in a statement this morning.

体育在线365 "Today, and informed by the advice of the Chief Health Officer, I can announce our cautious and careful next steps.

"The continuing low numbers of community transmission and the high rates of testing give us confidence that cafes, restaurants, pubs and other hospitality businesses can begin planning for a phased re-opening from the beginning of June."

From 1 June cafés, restaurants and pubs will be able to reopen their doors to serve meals to up to 20 customers at a time per enclosed space.

Andrews said from 22 June it is possible the number could increase to up to 50 patrons, and even up to 100 during the second half of July.

"The timelines we're announcing today are reliant on Victorians continuing to get tested when they show even mild symptoms and on those tests continuing to show low numbers of positive cases around the state," he said.

体育在线365 "Before each of these dates, the Chief Health Officer will review the rates of community transmission in Victoria, confirm our ability to test, trace and respond to possible outbreaks and make sure we have an adequate safety net in the health system before we take the steps outlined.

体育在线365 "This industry has told us they need time to plan and prepare to protect the safety of their staff and customers. Making these announcements now will be giving them that time."

Only one person per four square metres will be allowed and tables will need to be spaced at least 1.5 metres apart.

Venues will also be required to take the contact details of every customer to assist in rapid contact tracing.

体育在线365 "And there'll be other safety requirements too, including extra cleaning, staff health screening and temperature checks," Andrews said.

体育在线365 "Once in place, these changes will apply to standalone restaurants and cafes, as well as restaurants and bistros within a pub, hotel, bar, registered and licensed club, RSL or community club.

体育在线365 "Restrictions on other spaces within these kinds of venues - including public bars and gaming areas - will remain in place throughout June, as will restrictions on food courts."

He described hospitality as one of the pillars of the Victorian economy and has been one of the hardest hit by this pandemic.

体育在线365 "Reopening the venues we all love is a critical piece of the puzzle in saving jobs and restoring our local communities," he said.

体育在线365 "If, in the coming weeks, we see a sudden upswing in community exposures from an unknown source - we may have to make the call to delay.

体育在线365 "Similarly, if an initial opening led to a whole series of uncontrolled crowds or breaches - we'd look at that pretty seriously too."

Updated at 11:13am AEST on 17 May 2020.

"Good on you for reopening," PM tells Australian businesses

"Good on you for reopening," PM tells Australian businesses

体育在线365 With $220 billion in loans now deferred, banks reportedly going easy on debt covenants and insolvencies well below average, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has offered words of encouragement to the business community today.

As restrictions start to be eased between now and Monday for the majority of the population, the PM acknowledges limits of up to 10 people at a time in hospitality venues "won't necessarily be a profitable patronage" for many businesses.

体育在线365 But in reopening, these cafés and restaurants are "backing their staff".

体育在线365 "They're backing their communities and they're backing their country, and I want to commend them for that brave step that they're taking this weekend," he told a press conference today after the National Cabinet meeting, noting it has now been two months since its first meeting to address the crisis. 

"Good on you for reopening, and I'm sure your patrons will come in and support you strongly as well."

He emphasises the banking sector has held up well, and the oversubscribed take-up of bonds show that markets are treating Australia as a country to be relied upon - "a good bet".

"It's essential that as we move forward that we continue to enable the credit to flow through our banking system to support those businesses who are taking decisions to reopen, to rehire, and to move ahead," he says.

体育在线365 "Some $220 billion in loan deferrals have already been put in place in our banking system - about two-thirds of that in mortgages and one-third for small and medium sized enterprises.

"The banks have also not been enforcing, broadly speaking, covenants, and they've been holding off on revaluations and not pursuing recovery actions other than for pre-existing cases."

He notes insolvencies are currently running below average, and that's been backed by significant protections put in place early on in the crisis in relation to preventing creditors from forcing companies into liquidation.

体育在线365 "In addition, the super (superannuation) system - we are advised - is responding very well with some $11.7 billion in claims. It was noted that this was consistent with the Treasury estimate, and this was not presenting liquidity issues, the head of APRA (Australian Prudential Regulation Authority) has advised us," he says.

"Industry estimates of what the claims would be have not been realised."

Could net import gap favour domestic tourism?

体育在线365 While the tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and related lockdowns. Morrison has pointed out a potential silver lining.

"As the borders fall internally and Australians can hopefully soon return to domestic holidays and to move around the country more widely - and particularly with school holidays coming up again in July - we were reminded that the net tourism imports to Australia is [sic] just over $20 billion a year," he says.

"That means that after you take account of international tourists coming here and Australians going overseas, that there is a net import factor of just over $20 billion.

体育在线365 "Now that's up for grabs for Australian domestic tourism operators - Australians who might otherwise go elsewhere, that is a very large market and that will be targeted."

The Federal Government has been working with state and territory agencies responsible for tourism, and Tourism Australia is set to launch its 'Live from AUS' domestic campaign this evening.

体育在线365 On the topic of travellers, Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy says "you can't test your way out of quarantine", noting there had been misinformation circulating that a negative test meant people could avoid these measures.

"We also had a discussion about quarantine periods for returning travellers. I want to make it very clear that there is no no amount of PCR testing or swab testing that can that can obviate the need for quarantine," he says. 

体育在线365 "If you are a return traveler from a risk area and a quarantine requirement is in place, having a test done - a swab and a PCR done - just means whether you are positive on that day; it doesn't mean that you're not incubating the virus and it doesn't mean you can get out of quarantine earlier."

体育在线365 With the total number of COVID-19 cases now at 7,017, there are only 50 COVID-19-related patients in hospitals now of whom only 12 people are on ventilators.

体育在线365 "Hospital capacity is around 50 to 60 per cent. We are starting see some increase with the elective surgery relaxations announced a few weeks ago, but there is now pretty good room for further expansion and clearly in those states that are having essentially no cases they want to go fairly quickly back to full elective activity," he says.

体育在线365 "Those states that still have some transmission are probably going to take it a bit more gently, but everybody is now heading towards full elective surgery, which is a really important thing."

An extra $48 million pledged to fill gaps in mental health services

The Federal Government will invest an extra $48 million into mental health services to combat the psychological damage wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic on Australians.

According to Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt the extra funding will seek to plug holes identified by the Government in Australia's mental health system.

体育在线365 The funding will cover three areas:

  1. $7.3 million will go toward research and data so the Government can identify problems in real time.
  2. $29.5 million will go toward outreach programs for vulnerable communities like non-English speaking communities, Indigenous Australians and those with pre-existing mental health conditions.
  3. $11.3 million will form a broader communication campaign, of which $10.4 million will form a national campaign that will tell Australians "It is okay to not be okay".

The program comes as over 957,000 mental health services have been delivered in the last four weeks, bringing the rate back up to pre-COVID-19 levels, with half of these consultations being conducted via telehealth.     

Despite the good work done so far, National Mental Health Commission CEO Christine Morgan says the Government can do more.

"We understand the social context in which we exist, and we're also seeing another really encouraging thing, and that is moving into delivering mental health care in community. But there are gaps," says Morgan.

"And the gaps are what we seek to address with this plan. The first gapis data. We absolutely must come together as a country and see what we can actually do to improve that data collection, so that we know not only what is happening, but we can better understand what to expect, and we can better move to services where they are needed. That is critical.

体育在线365 "The second is we have had people disconnect from services. You've heard me say that before. And we have had people really challenged with accessing services. So, the plan says, 'We must reach into community'. That means we need to be where people can access services."

The funds for the program are being invested by both the Federal and state governments. Victoria has already pledged to contribute $19.5 million and other states are also expected to contribute.

体育在线365 The extra $48 million is on top of the $4.2 billion investment already made by the Federal Government made more broadly into the health sector.

Updated at 2:08pm AEST on 15 May 2020.

COVID-19 to hit Victorian GSP by 14 per cent in June quarter

COVID-19 to hit Victorian GSP by 14 per cent in June quarter

According to Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas the state was on track to record its sixth-straight budget surplus this financial year.

But the one-two punch of the bushfires followed by the COVID-19 economic crisis has left the State looking worse for wear.

体育在线365 Pallas says while the bushfires were devastating both economically and socially, the impact of COVID-19 costs is far worse than what the State spent on post-bushfire recovery.

体育在线365 The anticipated cost for the bushfires was expected to be 0.1 per cent of the State's annual Gross State Product (GSP), equating to around $500 million.

In comparison COVID-19 is anticipated to hit GSP for the June Quarter by 14 per cent, relative to previous forecasts.

"Let's be clear that we're operating with anything but normal circumstances," says Pallas.

"I want to be very clear that this is not the time for any government to be chasing surpluses. This is a time for governments to prioritise the welfare, the wellbeing of the community, the workforce and business. And that's exactly what we will be doing."

Today's economic update for the March quarter saw the Treasurer announce that Victoria was on track to recording a surplus of $618 million in FY20, but the unprecedented effect of both the bushfires and COVID-19 means the state's economic forecast now looks very different.

The March financial report shows a deficit for the year to March of $773 million, and that is before the full effects of the coronavirus really make a mark.

体育在线365 If not for these events Pallas says total expenditure for the financial year would have aligned with the Government's strategy of constrained expenditure growth, forecast at 3.1 per cent.

Yesterday's Australian Bureau of Statistics announcement regarding the national employment figures showed Victoria recorded 6 per cent unemployment in April, with 127,000 more Victorians out of work.

"But of course, hidden in that figure of 6 per cent is the fact that we're seeing worsening of participation in the labour market," says Pallas.

"So all of that means that there is not only a rise in unemployment but there is also a profound impact hidden within the community because people cannot get the hours and are giving up on looking for work in the labour market."

体育在线365 Since the COVID-19 pandemic started to hit Australia Victoria has invested more than $5 billion toward health services, students, businesses, tenants and landlords.

体育在线365 The Treasurer says more than 50,000 businesses and up to 1 million workers have benefitted from its support measures.

The State will also defer scheduled capital payments and dividends from the Transport Accident Commission, Worksafe, and the Victorian Managed Insurance Agency because of the uncertainty of the financial environment.

体育在线365 "Right now we're focussed on giving Victorian families, businesses and communities the support they need to get through to the other side of this crisis," says Pallas.

Updated at 10:33am AEST on 15 May 2020.

Qatar Airways restarts Brisbane flights

Qatar Airways restarts Brisbane flights

体育在线365 One of the few airlines still connecting Australia with the Middle East and Europe is about to expand its offering of routes to Brisbane on 20 May.

Qatar Airways will be recommencing three weekly flights from Doha to Brisbane, adding to existing daily services with Sydney and Melbourne as well as four-weekly flights to Perth.

体育在线365 The first flight is set to land at Brisbane Airport (BNE) on 21 May, with services operating under existing bilateral rights until 30 June with the airline carrying both commercial passengers and freight.

Brisbane Airport Corporation (BAC) expects this will provide a critical cargo channel for Australian businesses and producers.

"This announcement is most welcome and the first major sign the industry has commenced recovery phase following COVID-19 restrictions," says BAC CEO Gert-Jan de Graaff.

"Until now, Brisbane was the only major capital city without a Qatar Airways service and Queensland the only major state.

"The demand for Qatar Airways services has always been clear, with Queensland generating more than 19,000 passengers to Doha alone in 2019."

De Graaff says as the world begins to heal, one-stop services into Queensland from key British and European travel markets also offer a real opportunity for Queensland, with visitors arriving in Australia via Brisbane more likely to stay longer in the state.

"While the direct service will bring more choice for passengers, the air access and export opportunities created by the commencement of Qatar services direct to and from Brisbane for the city and state are significant," the executive says.

体育在线365 "These services will provide much needed support Queensland and northern NSW exporters in exporting around 4,000 tonnes of beef and other perishables per annum to Qatar.

"Freight exports that none of the existing airline partners carry, and of course there is significant opportunity for additional exports across Qatar Airway's global network."

体育在线365 The airline is resuming services after previously receiving short-term approval to operate to Brisbane from late-March to early April - a period during which helped reunite over 5,000 stranded travellers with their loved ones and transported over 270 tonnes of cargo, including Australian agriculture exports.

"In these difficult times, customers are looking for an airline they can trust, our commitment and willingness to get people home continues to provide assurance," says Qatar Airways Group chief executive Akbar Al Baker.

"We have built a strong level of confidence with passengers, governments, trade partners, and airports as a reliable partner during this crisis and we intend to continue delivering on this mission.

"Qatar Airways received exceptional approval to operate short term services to Brisbane to repatriate the many tourists, students and diplomats who wanted to go back to their home countries."

The airline continues to operate flights to 16 destinations in Europe, including London, Frankfurt, Paris and Amsterdam, with plans to add an additional seven European destinations by the end of June.

Updated at 9:50am AEST on 15 May 2020.

Michael Hill to gradually reopen stores from Saturday

Michael Hill to gradually reopen stores from Saturday

Jewellery retailer Michael Hill (ASX: MHJ) will open nearly 100 of its stores in Australia this weekend with an aim to progressively open the remainder during May.

体育在线365 But not all Michael Hill employees will be going back to work; the company has decided to permanently close five stores in Australia, three in New Zealand and one in Canada.

体育在线365 The rollout of store openings in Australia is based on how individual states have decided to relax COVID-19 restrictions, but Michael Hill says it expects every store in the country will be reopened by early June.

体育在线365 25 stores in New Zealand will open on Saturday, with the balance planned to follow across the coming two weeks.

体育在线365 The group's Canadian portfolio currently remains closed, but there are plans to commence the progressive reopening of stores in late May.

Michael Hill says during the shutdown it has seen a "significant boost" in online sales, with digital sales in the last three weeks outperforming the prior record digital sales week from Christmas 2019.

This is primarily the result of the company deploying a range of digital initiatives such as virtual appointments, a new online video hub, a fresh online storefront, chat functionality on the website, an improved Instagram feed and a WeChat store.

体育在线365 The group's loyalty program has also seen memberships increase to over 100,000 members. Michael Hill's loyalty revenue now represents 42 per cent of total e-commerce revenue.

体育在线365 "The surge in our digital sales signals a notable shift in consumer behaviour in the jewellery category," says Michael Hill CEO Daniel Bracken.

体育在线365 "We have been quick to respond and harness this opportunity, with the implementation of a number of digital initiatives to continue to attract new customers and maintain the momentum.

体育在线365 "As we reopen stores, we are placing the utmost importance on the safety of our employees and customers. We look forward to enabling our customers to celebrate their love, style their wardrobe and find their memorable gift in a safe store environment as we all navigate through these unprecedented times."

Updated at 9:18am AEST on 15 May 2020.

One in four Australians now on JobKeeper

One in four Australians now on JobKeeper

Update (22 May 2020): It has since come to light that the Treasury and Australian Tax Office (ATO) have drastically reduced their projected number of JobKeeper recipients by three million. Read more here.

体育在线365 Approximately one in three Australians is being supported by Government assistance programs like JobKeeper, JobSeeker and Youth Allowance as the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 economic crisis take their toll.

These numbers were announced today by a grim Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg alongside the release of April's unemployment figures体育在线365, which saw women and young Australians hit disproportionately.

The Treasurer says there are 6 million Australians - or approximately one in four people - receiving the stimulus package from the approximately 850,000 businesses that have formally enrolled in the program.

体育在线365 There are also 1.6 million Australians on JobSeeker and Youth Allowance.

The JobKeeper program is set to be reviewed in June, when the Government will determine how to move forward with the $130 billion package.

The Government's ultimate plan is to reinvigorate the economy by easing restrictions gradually across the nation.

The Treasurer says some 850,000 people will be back in work as a result of Stage One, Two and Three restrictions being lifted. This should also deliver a $9.4 billion boost to the national economy.

"There is still a long way to go, and the economic numbers will get worse before they get better," Frydenberg said.

Youth unemployment spikes

Youth unemployment has risen during April as a result of the COVID-19 financial crisis, described by Prime Minister Scott Morrison as "terribly shocking".

As part of the release of unemployment figures for April 2020体育在线365, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has revealed that youth unemployment (those aged 15 to 25) rose to 13.8 per cent, up from 11.5 per cent in March.

体育在线365 The figure is more than double that of the national unemployment rate of 6.2 per cent, but both figures in fact do not take into consideration the hundreds of thousands of people who have actually given up on looking for work, and therefore are not included in the unemployment figures. 

Speaking to the press today Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the scale of the crisis is unlike anything seen in recent Australian history.

"When I left University, and soon after, we went into the last recession," Morrison said.

"It was hard. This is harder. We haven't seen this before.

"And for many young people who have never experienced that, this is beyond anything they could imagine."

The figures demonstrate how young people have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 restrictions, with many working in sectors like hospitality and tourism that have been completely shut down by the coronavirus.

Women also represent more than half of the newly unemployed 603,300 Australian workers, with 325,000 women joining the 1.8 million unemployed in the country.

Updated at 1:00PM AEST on 14 May 2020.





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