Queensland Government budgets for Covid-19 disruptions
The Queensland Government has announced that it will find emergency funds to lessen the economic stress of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.
The proposed loan facility would free up AU$500mn of cash on an interest-free basis for 12 months. It is hoped that this will provide businesses enough time to weather the storm and stay operational.
“We know just how tough Queensland families and businesses are doing it in the face of this pandemic,” said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. “At the end of January, our Government was the first to declare a health emergency allowing isolation of patients to be enforced.
“We were the first to unveil an assistance package for those businesses most directly affected like tourism operators and seafood exporters.
“We know the effects of this outbreak will grow and intensify, and as they do, so will our measures to protect Queenslanders health, their jobs and their businesses,” she concluded.
A difficult time for business
The Queensland Government’s decision will bring some relief to Australia’s business community, which is understandably concerned about the shifting economic landscape.
Although Graham Turner, CEO, made it clear that coronavirus was not the entire reason for the decision, he stated that the situation had accelerated plans already being considered:
“We've got just under 900 locations in Australia, so it's about 10 per cent of our locations and they're all in areas that are not as good as they used to be.
"It would have happened anyway ... the coronavirus just makes it that we'll shut them a little bit sooner than we would have otherwise,” he commented to ABC.
Meanwhile, Australian sports franchises are also in trouble, as the news was broken that the rugby union competition Super Rugby would be suspended until further notice.
The disruption is expected to lose the nation’s four teams (the Brumbies, NSW Waratahs, Queensland Red and Melbourne Rebels) millions in lost revenue as advertisers, sponsors and broadcasters all pull out of the event.
Disruptions to trade
Although the virus’ effect on tourism and sport is overtly more noticeable, the impact on Australian trade has been no less concerning, with supply chains strained and requiring significant attention to mitigate losses.
China, Australia’s largest trading partner ($153bn of exports per year), has experienced factory closures and business suspensions in an effort to quell the virus, making imports difficult.
Also, iron ore, a fundamental export from Australia to China, has dropped 10%, with other raw materials (such as coal and other minerals) similarly expected to fall.
Other regional governments and authorities throughout Australia may need to heed Queensland’s example, as further disruptions to trade seem inevitable as the world waits for the peak of coronavirus to finally start easing down.
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