Covid Mandates; A Burden on Small Business

  • December 19th, 2021 at 10:24 pm

Anne Nalder recently attended the Undivided Gold Coast Community Meeting on the 2nd of December, 2021 to advocate for small business rights and to present a viewpoint from the voice of small business on how the COVID-19 Vaccination mandate will affect the SME Sector.

There are serious health, moral, and legal implications that extend well beyond vaxed or unvaxed arguments.

These include:

  • Human rights.
  • Individual health care decisions and informed consent
  • Right to Privacy
  • Anti-discrimination
  • Freedom of movement
  • Free of coercion (no jab no job)
  • Transparency and uniformity in regulations

The burdens, responsibilities, and consequences cannot be shifted from government to small business.  It is not fair; it is not reasonable, and many would argue unnecessary. Since the first settlement, it is small business that built this nation, and it is small business that built the Gold Coast.

Australia wide Small Business Background:

  • Small business in Australia is still the single largest employer in the private sector employing some 5m not counting the owners.
  • 98% of businesses in Australia are small businesses. Globally it is 98 to nearly 100%.
  • There are approximately 700,000 sole traders that do not employ staff.
  • Small business is made up of micro, small and medium enterprises.
  • There are approximately 2.4m actively trading small businesses in Australia.
  • Migrants make up 1/3 of small businesses.

Gold Coast Small Business Background:

  • The Gold Coast has over 70,000 small businesses, Qld around 464,000.

During the pandemic, it is small businesses that have done the heavy lifting. They have had to endure short notices, mixed messages, a lack of clarity and incur costs well above and beyond their normal operating costs. Some small businesses have done well, many are just hanging on.

Whilst there have been some sporadic grants to assist small businesses, many of the grants excluded sole traders who earned under $75,000 that are GST exempt.   

As of 17 December, amongst other mandates:

  • Small business owners will become the watch keepers of who or who may not enter their business premises.
  • Some small business owners will be forced to instruct unvaxed staff to be vaccinated or be sacked depending on the industry.
  • Currently we are doing various surveys as to whether small business owners should police clients entering their shops. One of our recent surveys of 2249 responses is 57% not in favour with 43% being in favour.

By following the mandate and believing what they are doing is the right thing, small businesses face a potential legal minefield and/or fines.

If the mandate is brought in, the following long-term consequences will occur.

  • There will be further bankruptcies, more suicides, relationship breakups, increase in domestic violence and mental issues. Also, if a small business goes bust, its affects can also damage other creditors.
  • This will translate to job losses.
  • The demise of small business will affect everyone and the economy.

The government must seriously consider:

  • The state of the economy with the GDP figure for Australia released yesterday the worst in 47 years.
  • Should the trend continue, we are in recession after the next quarterly figures.
  • We have a labour shortage across all industries that has negative consequences. This will be further eroded if a small business owner must sack unvaxed staff.
  • The government must not be blindsided by the Black Friday and upcoming Christmas/New Year’s Sales. It is post New Year Sales when falling over the cliff may occur as traditionally January to March are slow trading months and whatever money a small business owner makes over that period is simply playing financial catch up or reducing debt.
  • The additional financial burden on small business to police entry into their premises bearing in mind we have had a prolonged drought, bushfires, floods and then hit with the pandemic.
  • Interest rate rises.
  • Increase costs of living and doing business.
  • Supply shortages.

What we need is a Small Business Road Map that includes:

  • Short Term quick fix it
  • Longer Term Support for maybe up to 3 years
  • Small Business Reform

Small business is vital to the Qld economy, it must not be treated as a second-class citizen, it is a major contributor to the economy, and it must not be taken for granted. All it asks is a fair go. 17 December will not be a fair go.