A key member of the Morrison government’s co-ordination team through the COVID-19 crisis believes the economic recovery in Australia will open up opportunities, particularly in manufacturing.
But National COVID-19 Co-ordination Commission chair Neville Powell warns some parts of the economy will take longer to recover than others, particularly businesses associated with international travel.
He said the crisis had shown Australia had become very reliant on international supply chains to the detriment of its own industry.
“We have an opportunity with a relatively low Australian dollar, disruptive global supply chains and the low cost of capital to do something about that as we come out of the crisis and to generate a lot of jobs for Australians,” he told Sky News on May 17.
“We can produce more product here and become more self sufficient, then we don’t rely as heavily on international supply chains to support our country and provide that sovereign capability that we need.”
The commission was set up to help fix supply chains as the pandemic gripped the global economy and secure personal protective equipment for medical workers.
Powell said the commission was now working closely with businesses to help develop plans as to how they can work with the virus and getting them ready to introduce social distancing and personal hygiene in their workplaces, while putting in place response plans should outbreaks develop.
Figures last week showed the devastating impact COVID-19 has had on the economy with nearly 600,000 people losing their jobs in April, by far the biggest one-month fall in employment on record.
The jobless rate rose to a five-year high of 6.2 percent, but Treasury expects it will rise even further to 10 percent in the coming months.
Even so, Powell said some businesses have been able to operate reasonably well during the crisis, and as restrictions lift, hospitality and the arts will also come back – both big employers.
“Some of the parts that are going to take longer is anything associated with international travel, that’s going to take the longest to come back,” he said.
Of the jobs losses in April, over 220,000 were seen in the most populous state of NSW.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said her state was more vulnerable to tourism and international trade disruption because Sydney is a global city.
“It’s our job now as a government to make sure we replace those jobs and reinvigorate parts of our economy,” she told Sky News.
“We’re looking for opportunities in New South Wales now where we can push the boundaries on the economic side.”
By Colin Brinsden