Making the right choices will be crucial to recovery

Modelling released today by the Business Council of Australia reveals that the way we manage the recovery will be critical to ensuring people who have already lost their jobs do not fall into the trap of long-term unemployment.

“Australia is in a good position to plan for a strong recovery, support the most vulnerable in the community and limit the monumental social, economic and human cost of this global crisis,” Business Council chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“Our research shows that before government assistance 40 per cent of workers who would have lost their jobs were already at the highest risk of falling into long term unemployment. These are the same group of people who never found work again after the recession of the 1990s.

“So, it’s important we do everything we can to make sure they are not left behind.

“Australians have pulled together to contain COVID-19 and we’ll need the same focus, co-operation and determination to set ourselves up for a strong recovery.

“There can be no trade-off between the health, social and economic recovery but the most vulnerable members of our community will pay the highest cost of failure on any front.

“The economic cost has been profound but Australia is well placed to recover strongly with a plan to continue managing the virus, keep Australians safe and lift restrictions where possible.

“Whether that recovery takes a V or a U shape depends on how safely and quickly we ease restrictions.

“When we are making decisions about our recovery we need to ask ourselves does this create a new job, a secure job, better paid job or does it get someone back to work?

“There can be no trade-off between the health, social and economic recovery but older workers and those with high school or below education will pay the highest cost of failure on any front.

“On skills, we need a system that lets people rapidly upskill as the world changes by giving them access to micro-credentials that let them build their own qualifications and a life-long skills account they can use as they need.

“Our modelling makes the point that workers in accommodation, food, retail, construction and manufacturing have been hardest hit, going forward reforms that make it easier for companies to do business in Australia will help create jobs.

“Our workplace relations system must be simpler and our enterprise bargaining system must work better for employers and employees.

“Regulations which have been suspended during the COVID-19 crisis should be properly considered before they are reinstated, do we really need them?

“We will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic with our reputation as a safe country enhanced. We now need to ensure we also have the advantage of an efficient and competitive tax system that actually attracts investment to our shores.

“As we chart the course forward we should act on the quick reforms that will get new investment flowing and get started on the bigger, more long term growth plan.

“These things are possible with shared vision and purpose. As we prepare for the long journey of the recovery, I encourage people to put aside their ideological constraints and abandon their biases against business.

“The choices we make will determine the strength of our recovery.”

Read the Business Council’s research online here.