PM to Talk Bushfire Recovery with Business

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020
Parliament House in Canberra

Scott Morrison is preparing to discuss the bushfire recovery with business leaders in Canberra.

Meanwhile, the United States has downgraded its travel advice for Australia, no longer warning tourists to avoid Australia due to the bushfire crisis.

The prime minister will sit down with business and industry groups to discuss ideas and proposals to get local economies back on track.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Small Business Minister Michaelia Cash will also take part in the meeting.

“These businesses are viable, but vulnerable and we need to do everything we can to get them back on their feet,” Senator Cash told AAP.

“The impact and devastation in areas of these bushfires have been unprecedented.”

The meeting will address property loss, supply chains, staffing and customer levels.

The US has downgraded its travel warnings for Australia, removing advice to postpone trips because of the fire season.

American visitors to the ACT, south eastern Victoria and the Central Tablelands in NSW are still being encouraged to exercise increased caution because of bushfires and air quality issues.

Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham said the revision was a good first step but he wants the US warnings dropped back to original levels.

“We want to make it clear that Australia is still very much open for business,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

“Most Australian regions remain unaffected and continue to offer tourists the incredible tourism experiences that our country is known for.”

Labor’s small business spokesman Brendan O’Connor wants the coalition to set up a task force to directly advise the government, mirroring the federal response to the Queensland floods in 2010-2011.

Eminent business people would examine issues including insurance policies and concessional loans.

Mr O’Connor has also pointed to the Victorian government’s response to the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009, namely low interest loans to small business coupled with a mentoring program.

“Many small businesses have lost their livelihoods due to devastating bushfires and wonder how they can rebuild,” he said.

“They continue to face economic uncertainty during and after the fires and require immediate and effective support.”

The meeting comes as Westpac estimates the bushfire crisis will cost the Australian economy $5 billion and cut up to 0.5 per cent off economic growth.

The government has already announced a series of disaster relief payments and grants available for businesses, farms and local councils.


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