How business and government are working together on the COVID-19 recovery – and what it means for the future of the Australian economy

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This article has been sponsored by Accenture.

Regardless of industry, businesses were taken off-guard in early 2020 as COVID-19 rapidly spread around the world.

Few industries had a business model in place which took into account the possible impact of a pandemic, which subsequently proved to be problematic for almost every business owner.

In the wake of COVID-19, businesses and the government have been working together to implement a range of strategies and investments to ensure full recovery and eventual growth across Australian industries.

Accenture Strategy and the Business Council of Australia (BCA) recently released a report which outlines three key areas that need addressing to ensure ongoing success for business moving forward.

Increase national coordination

The report raises questions around the varied response from the National Cabinet and other cross-jurisdictional bodies in relation to the handling of the pandemic, insisting Australian states and territories must coordinate those responses far more than they have been to date.

This misaligned approach has caused uncertainty among Australian industries, which has increased the overall costs associated with owning and operating a business.

For businesses to bounce back and eventually thrive, Accenture and BCA recommend a three-tier approach: lift all states to best practice with virus control methods, introduce national approaches to matters like hotspot definitions and travel restrictions, and increase coordination across jurisdictions.

This can be achieved through the likes of national digital data exchange, investing in automation and tech as well as community engagement, which would result in reduced uncertainty across Australian businesses and lower costs involved.

Switch to lower-cost restrictions

Due to Australia’s rolling lockdowns across states, certain industries, particularly hospitality, aviation and tourism have taken an enormous hit.

The report recommends opting for lower-cost restrictions to curb the $2.1 billion monthly cost associated with border closures. This requires constant updates of current lockdown procedures, with the government being called on to improve border closure guidelines, contact tracing and its hotspot response, while also avoiding blanket border closures when they aren’t necessary.

As the majority of Australians are shown to remain hesitant of interstate travel, these steps will hopefully instil some confidence in the general public, eventually boosting tourism and feeding money back into businesses in the hospitality and aviation industry.

Increased support for hard-hit industries

The government and businesses will have to join forces to ensure there are guidelines around how the economy should run moving forward, including an improvement in overall planning and transparency.

The government also needs to continue providing financial support to the industries hit the hardest by the pandemic to maintain balance and reinforce a level of certainty across all Australian businesses, so they feel comfortable enough to return to near-normal.

The next steps

In recent weeks, Australia has witnessed the formation — and more recently, the prompt suspension – of the New Zealand travel bubble, with the government’s aim to slowly rejuvenate the tourism industry, and subsequently the hospitality industry as a positive side-effect of increased travel.

While the New Zealand government has briefly paused the bubble in light of the recent COVID spike in NSW, the joint efforts between the governments indicate that they’re more than aware of the urgency behind reopening Australia to give industries across the board the boost they sorely need.

As clearly illustrated by the recent NSW situation, the road ahead will remain bumpy at best and unpredictable at worst, so the Australian government and local businesses need to continue to work together to reopen the economy and start picking up the pieces.