We have heard over the past couple of weeks phrases like ”unprecedented” ”uncharted waters” ”never before” and this is true. The impact of COVID-19 is global, its impact deep and its impact without boundaries. Its impact is also testing human behavior like never before. Yet again we have seen the best of people and human behaviour and unfortunately the worst and downright embarrassing. Whilst so different to isolated events, like cyclones, floods and bushfires, these isolated events do in their own right continue teach us all about preparedness, recovery and resilience.
At Infinitum Partners we are about contributing to the effort to address COVID-19. Below are our thoughts and suggestions on how this can be actioned and what is needed now to ensure that we are ready for the future on the other side. In particular, with looming elections, governments and candidates have the perfect platform to demonstrate their leadership capability by putting forward their polices to guide us most meaningfully through the year to come and the future thereafter.
What have we learnt?
In Far North Queensland/ North Queensland, NT or WA, whether it’s the wet season or cyclones, people are prepared and ready. Clearly following directions and advice to ensure that human safety is the priority. We should remember that Cyclone Yasi, a category 5 cyclone crossed the coast 3 February 2011, only four days after Cyclone Anthony, a category 2 crossed the coast 30 January 2011. People were prepared and strictly adhered to advice. Unlike COVID-19, people had to evacuate their homes, some had no power for over a month, and many required works to their homes that took significantly longer. After Yasi hit, frustrated residents urged people to “stop looking, start helping” as devastated towns, some containing the most vulnerable, and hundreds uninsured, came to terms with the massive clean-up task. In our view, the message here is about adhering to advice, taking direction and putting our most vulnerable first ahead of ourselves. With COVID-19 we don’t want the statement to be “If only I had”.
The message from Government has been simple, our most vulnerable need to stay in their homes, as do the sick; the Government, the community and our families will support you. For the rest of us we need to accept the important task of ensuring business continuity under these changed circumstances and to provide leadership in the face of adversity. We need to be nimble, agile and collaborative to minimise the impacts of this event now and importantly for the future. A decade ago the challenge of our community was the GFC, now it is COVID-19. It will however be the same ‘steady hand on the tiler’ and commitment that will see us through this our next challenge.
Like many, we are anxious about the impact of COVID-19, but we are buoyed by having family in places like South Korea where life is returning to normal, by seeing Qld lead the way in research and vaccine trials and also buoyed by being an island nation, who right now is in Autumn and not in Winter. There is however a long, long road ahead.
Our business is one of many millions of small businesses registered in Australia – and small businesses accounts for the majority of all businesses operating in Australia. The largest sector of small business is construction which is nearly 20% of all small businesses in Australia. The ABS also states, more than 60% of small businesses cease operations within the first three years of their startup journey. With more than 20,000 small businesses registering each year, that could mean nearly 12,000 businesses on normal economic conditions could shut up shop in any given year. It is these numbers, and the fact that this is not any normal year, that are informing the responses you are seeing from Government to help support and stimulate small businesses.
One level of government that has not been as evident in the response to COVID-19 has been local government. Obviously with Councils under caretaker provisions this is made more difficult. However, whilst the business community needs to provide leadership and demonstrate commitment to each other, so do all levels of government.
With rates freezes high on the agenda at a local government level, ensuring revenue will be critical. The second highest generator of revenue for Local government is through development and therefore stimulating the construction sector and development sector will be vital to boost confidence and economic growth. Whilst some Local governments have announced a number of measures, these are not widespread. Infinitum Partners would suggest the following additional measures could be taken to continue to support and stimulate the economy by business and government:
- Pay your suppliers promptly if not ahead of time.
- Fast track all develop assessments currently in the system.
- Review and identify government asset leveraging opportunities.
- Develop incentivization policy to bring forward new investment.
- Bring forward as much capital works planning and then subsequent investment as soon as possible.
- Bring forward as much strategic planning as soon possible and develop participatory and collaborative models for its remote development.
- Bring forward an immediate commitment to e-services, in particular e-planning, to support business continuity, productivity and performance.
How can we help?
Infinitum Partners are remotely and collaboratively developing strategic policy with government, providing strategic advisory services on the impacts of COVID-19 to property projects, assets, and business continuity and optimisation, developing and implementing e-services and e-planning platforms for government, investment attraction, and undertaking development assessment. We collaborate with a range of parties and would be happy to share our experience with others. We would equally welcome the opportunity to learn and collaborate with others also. Reach out should you wish to discuss our learnings or yours.
This is a great time to investigate and consider your own business continuity and resilience, so whether you are a small business, big business or government, let COVID-19 be the cyclone you needed to be better prepared for a new normal post event.
Infinitum Partners, remains open, and we have the event experience and digital capacity to work remotely and to assist you and your business through this period. Equally we see ourselves as part of a much larger community charged with the responsibility of doing our bit to ensure the impacts of COVID-19 are minimised as much as possible during and after these difficult times. We would love to hear how you are approaching these ‘unprecedented’ times and we would be keen to work with you to ensure Queensland and Australia remains a great place to do business.
Take care all, help each other and we will get through this bigger and better than ever.
Stew and Kate
INFINITUM – WITHOUT LIMIT