The bosses of seven of Australia’s biggest companies have pleaded with Daniel Andrews to let Victorians return to work in order to “urgently” kick start the state’s languishing economy.
The open letter, sent to the Victorian Premier late on Wednesday, was signed by the heads Wesfarmers, Coca-Cola Amatil, BHP, the Commonwealth Bank, Orica, Newcrest Mining and Incitec Pivot.
In it, they praised medical staff and emergency services workers and thanked Victorians for their “resilience and ingenuity” during the COVID-19 pandemic.
They also congratulated Mr Andrews for getting the state’s deadly second wave under control, but warned harsh lockdown measures were taking a dark toll.
“The current situation is not sustainable,” the CEOs wrote in the letter.
“Victorians are hurting badly, personally and economically. Medical experts have warned of the devastating effects the restrictions are having on health and mental wellbeing.”
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The powerful group said Victoria was facing “social and economic challenges of an unprecedented scale, and which will take many years to resolve”.
“All this raises serious questions about how we will attract future talent to Victoria,” the letter continued.
“We urgently need to kick start our economy, and as leaders of some of Victoria’s biggest businesses we want to do our bit.”
Mr Andrews has said retail and hospitality businesses can reopen from November 1 if they have a COVID-safe plan, but that could be brought forward if case numbers remained low.
But the business chiefs said now was the time for a staged reopening of workplaces, starting with offices and small businesses.
“Safely opening up more Victorian workplaces, based on medical advice and guidance, and enabling the collaboration and creativity that will result, is critical to our State’s economic future,” the bosses said, adding their own companies were spending millions of dollars on COVID-safe workplace plans.
“Our businesses have chosen Melbourne because of this great city’s ability to nurture and attract great people capable of doing great things, supported by the small businesses that make Melbourne one of the most liveable places on earth,” they said.
“With Victoria having made such progress against the virus, it is time now to provide more Victorians with the ability to return to their workplaces in a safe and staged manner.”
The letter was signed by Wesfarmers’ Rob Scott, Coca-Cola Amatil’s Alison Watkins, BHP’s Mike Henry, CBA’s Matt Comyn, Orica’s Alberto Calderon, Newcrest Mining’s Sandeep Biswas and Incitec Pivot’s Jeanne Johns.
About 800 Victorian businesses a day are signing up to the Federal Government’s JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme, the Herald Sun reports.