Jennifer Westacott interview with Matt Doran and Monique Wright, Sunrise

Event: Jennifer Westacott interview with Matt Doran and Monique Wright, Sunrise 

Speaker: Jennifer Westacott, Business Council chief executive; Matt Doran, host; Monique Wright, host

Date: 22 December 2020

Topics: COVID-19 management, state boarders, National Cabinet

Matt Doran, host:  Joining us now is Jennifer Westacott from the Business Council of Australia. Jennifer, thank you very much for your time this morning, what impact do you think the current inconsistencies, I guess, are having on the business community? It's very tough to achieve agreement here?

Jennifer Westacott, Business Council chief executive: Oh, it's very difficult. The first impact is confidence, I mean confidence has just been shot. The second is frustration and confusion, we're hearing stories that people have had millions and millions of dollars of cancellations, they've had to lay-off staff they had put on. So, what we're simply asking for is for National Cabinet to reconvene and get a plan that allows some kind of understanding about what the rules are going to be, what the trigger points are going to be because we just can't go on like this over the next six weeks.

Monique Wright, host: Jennifer, I think that sounds like a great idea, we do need some national consistency. The only issue is that the pandemic is so unpredictable, so rules that work today might not be appropriate the next, how do we get around that? How can businesses change their approach and how do we sort of adapt to a situation which is just so rapidly changing and different every time?

Jennifer: Look, it's a really good point. We have done really well as a country and you look the UK and Europe and the United States and we are just in a much better of position because we had done many good things. I think what we're simply asking for is some kind of consistency and predictability to that. Some kind of forward information and some kind of proportionality because, you've just had the health minister on, and we've seen the Northern Beaches cluster go down in numbers. So why are we going to hard border closure in Queensland? When the numbers in the Northern Beaches are going down and then people will have to wait for quite a long time before they can get going again. Business has adapted, business has done really well. They've got COVIDSafe plans, they're being really flexible with their customers. What we need is some planning because yes, you're right - it's unpredictable, but we’ve done pretty well. All people are saying is, can we have a bit more predictability, a bit more information, a bit more consistency so that we can actually continue to be flexible and plan and change as things go on.

Matt: Yeah, very reasonable requests, such a difficult time for the business community at the moment. Jennifer Westacott. Thank you for your time.

Jennifer: You're very welcome. Thank you.