Small business hit hard by PM's poor planningMedia Release
Federal Member Libby Coker is calling on the Morrison Government to stop hesitating and help local businesses by making rapid antigen tests free and readily accessible.
Hundreds of local businesses are struggling with supply chain shortages and securing staff on a daily basis because of the scarcity of rapid antigen tests (RATs) and challenges in the testing system, Federal Member for Corangamite, Libby Coker MP said today.
“For many small businesses in my electorate the damage has already been done. Many are closing their doors because they just cannot get staff,” she said.
“Mr Morrison’s failure to order and make freely available rapid antigen tests, or to plan ahead on so many other issues during the pandemic, is unnecessarily stressing families and small business owners.
“I’ve been speaking with local business owners across Corangamite and they are, without exception, impacted in some way by lack of RATs.
“When I spoke with The Bookshop At Queenscliff co-owner Matt Davis he told me that if he and his wife ran their bookshop like the Morrison government runs the country they would be out of business,” Ms Coker said.
“The fact that we even need to discuss this is disgraceful, but the lack of RATs in the community is really impacting our ability to trade and plan,” Mr Davis said.
“It comes down to business confidence. We need, firstly the ability to trade, then the ability to get stock and, finally, the ability to have staff in the shop and to keep them safe. The lack of RATs impacts each of these things.
“Prior to Christmas, logistics issues made it very hard for small businesses like ours. At one of the busiest times in the book trade, we didn’t get deliveries for weeks. That really hurt us. I’m still furious about it.
“Now we’ve been hit by the RAT shortage. We’re told there are millions on order. That’s great, but we need them now. We needed them yesterday.
“Over the last couple of weeks, the number of customers in the shop have dropped significantly. People are either sick, close contacts or quite rightly nervous. And because they can’t get tested, they stay home.
“As a small business owner, this has been a complete debacle.
“The lack of leadership from Canberra makes it so hard for even a little bookshop like ours,” Mr Davis said.
How we got here
"The Prime Minister didn’t buy enough vaccines, then said it wasn’t a race. He still refuses to universally provide free and accessible rapid tests when they finally arrive in Australia, even though they are a crucial public health tool,” Ms Coker said.
“He didn’t plan properly for opening up, so supermarket shelves are empty while workers isolate. Families who have tested positive don’t know what to do because there is no adequate national public information campaign.
“Parents are worried about getting their kids vaccinated in time for the school term because GPs haven’t been given adequate supplies by Canberra.
“Some aged care residents and those in disability care have not yet received their booster shots, despite being told they are priority groups.
“Pharmacies have been told to source their own rapid tests. Morrison doesn’t want to ‘undercut’ the market. Yet this is a public health issue.
“Many workers, many families, can’t afford to buy RATs, even if they could get them. There is no fairness, no equity in the way the Morrison government treats people. Everyone deserves access to RATs, regardless of their income.
“People in Corangamite did the right thing to give the Government time to prepare to open up. We got vaccinated, we stayed home, we wore masks and we home-schooled our kids.
“Scott Morrison’s way of thanking us is to say “you’re on your own now”.
“Scott Morrison is not up to the job. And it's Australians who are paying the price,” Ms Coker said.Share Tweet