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State government agencies must act in interest of vulnerable small businesses during COVID-19 crisis




State governments around the country have joined the federal government to provide much needed financial support for small businesses as they prepare for the challenges of COVID-19. But, in an example of uncoordinated action, the NSW Government is planning a road closure that will deprive local businesses in the Northern Illawarra of customer traffic, at a time when they will be most vulnerable.


COSBOA indeed has recently applauded the NSW State Government for the introduction of an economic stimulus package that is likely to provide much needed assistance to small business owners across the state.


Yet, in a curious twist, NSW Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) have recently announced that they will close a key thoroughfare in a regional area that will make it hard for many small businesses. It seems Lawrence Hargrave Drive at Stanwell Park in the south coast of NSW will be closed in both directions from 9 June 2020 for a period of 8 weeks – right in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis.


COSBOA CEO, Peter Strong said: “This action will effectively cut off customer traffic to businesses in local economic centres along the Northern Illawarra coast of NSW – at a time when they will be most vulnerable given the predicted economic consequences of COVID-19. Who thought that was a good idea?”


“The proposed closure is a failure of NSW government agencies to support the actions of their own government and respect the needs of small business people and their employees at such a critical point in time”, Mr Strong said.


“We know maintenance works must be carried out but the timing of the closure of such a critical access road in a vital NSW region beggars belief”, Mr Strong added


Mr Strong said “It is pointless giving out financial assistance to small business on the one hand, and then putting the same businesses in jeopardy with poorly considered actions on the other.”


“The decision is reckless given all that is going on. We ask the NSW Premier to heed the calls of the local business community and their state member, Mr Ryan Park, to immediately defer the closure decision past the COVID-19 crisis – or come up with a partial closure arrangement that ensures that traffic keeps flowing into local economic centres like Scarborough, Coledale and Thirroul”, Mr Strong added.


Mr Strong concluded “This is a wake-up call to all state and territory governments to ensure that the actions of their departments and agencies are carefully considered or there will be unnecessary damage to businesses and to the economy of small communities. Get your act together.”


Photo of the Sea Cliff Bridge by Kane Taylor on Unsplash