Today’s National accounts confirm that rolling lockdowns and restrictions come at an enormous economic cost, Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.
“This is a reminder that we must stay the course on the reopening our domestic economy, if not we risk losing the economic momentum that jobs and activity data shows is gathering pace.
“Behind this set of numbers are small businesses that couldn’t stay open, workers who went months without a pay cheque and families who did it tough in some the darkest days of the pandemic.
“We have reason to be positive because we know that when the economy reopens, jobs and activity come back.
“Huge government support has helped deliver a better than expected result but a return to rolling lockdowns and restrictions would risk setting us back permanently.
“Australia can’t afford to take a backwards step.
“Sticking to the plan to reopen will mean clear, consistent and risk-based action to maintain our economic momentum and keep people safe.
“We need a mindset change that recognises greater uncertainty is here to stay, so we’ll need to put in place the lessons we’ve learnt managing the virus to keep the economy open and Australians safe.
“New investment will be needed drive our long-term recovery but it remains at record low levels. We must get the conditions right so that businesses can get on with investing in new jobs, new industries and new opportunities.
“Our priority should be reopening borders and keeping them open, driving confidence with nationally consistent rules and regulation and planning for faster and more sustained economic growth.
“This means continuing the work to get critical skills, internationals students and returning Australians back into the country. Australian jobs depend on it.
“As we emerge from the pandemic we must shift focus to manage the seismic economic changes ahead of us, create new industries and position ourselves for the future.”