A Message from the President – Survive or Thrive

Unless a vaccine is found very soon, the 2020 Year of COVID-19 could well turn out to be the first of several years where COVID-19 continues to impact our lives and our businesses. If so, we will have to learn to adapt and live with this virus for some time. Multiple regions, like Victoria, and many countries are experiencing a type of second wave as they emerge from hard lockdowns which have already severely impacted jobs, businesses and the economies.  State and international border closures have inoculated WA from a second wave so far but how long can WA remain isolated from the rest of Australia and the world?

How many more disruptive lockdowns can our modern, integrated economies survive if widespread lockdowns continue to be the response to further outbreaks? And how much further can State and Federal governments go into debt to fund JobSeeker, JobKeeper and multiple business survival packages to lessen the impact of these lockdowns?

There is now ample evidence that this virus cannot be totally eradicated so perhaps it is time to look at different approaches until a vaccine is delivered. An approach where the focus is not on economy destroying widespread lockdowns, but on continuing promotion of sensible social distancing and providing the maximum resources possible towards directly protecting and supporting those most vulnerable to COVID-19 until a vaccine is available? We must get people back in work and businesses back in business as quickly as possible.

There is no doubt small and medium sized businesses have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 control measures. Unfortunately, some local businesses have already closed their doors, many jobs have been lost, the 2020 tourist season has started late, and visitor numbers are down.  Tourism touches so many people and businesses in Broome and that sector has been hit particularly hard.

It is tough out there and it’s going to continue to be tough.  But what never ceases to amaze me is how resilient, tenacious, adaptable and innovative small business operators are.  With a healthy balance of realism and optimism many businesses are making the changes necessary to adapt and survive.  We are seeing this first hand in many of the Business Excellence Awards entries that have been submitted so far.  Our message to governments is that supporting the small business sector will be the quickest way back to providing jobs and getting the economy moving again.

We should never underestimate small businesses capability to survive and thrive. And Broome remains a good place to do that. There are few places that can match Broome’s liveability, lifestyle options and potential.

And perhaps without realising it, Broome has achieved a very diverse economy over the last decade or so with no one sector dominating, and many sectors have only been marginally affected to date.  Broome is still a very attractive place to visit and will benefit from the reluctance of many to travel overseas which may continue for some years.  The potential for a bumper shoulder season is very good.

There are good thing happening.  We will see the local construction sector strengthen in the next couple of months on the back of a significant increase in residential land sales thanks to government subsidies and continuing low interest rates.  The Kimberley Marine Supply Base is preparing for construction to start early next year and don’t discount Sheffield Resources re-energising their Thunderbird operations soon.  We are also likely to see domestic cruises, confined to the WA coast, starting up soon and Broome will be the number one attraction.

Broome also has a large range of shovel ready projects waiting for funding.  The Chamber has taken a lead role along with the Shire and other key stakeholders to pull together a Three Year COVID-19 Recovery Plan seeking to accelerate funding for these shovel ready infrastructure projects to create local jobs and increase money supply into the local economy. The Federal and State Governments has the money, we have the projects…… ready to go.

Broome’s COVID-19 Recovery Plan is our submission for some of this funding. Our competitive advantage is that these projects are ready to go and we have been able to demonstrate that the community is aligned and supportive of these projects.  I urge you to read the attached plan which also demonstrates the huge potential for Broome as a regional centre and a great place to live.

The future still looks bright!

PETER TAYLOR
President BCCI

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