Tourism leader calls for complete national shutdown
One of Australia's best-known entrepreneurs has called for a drastic month-long shutdown of the entire country to halt the spread of coronavirus.
Tourism and Events Queensland chairman Brett Godfrey said on Friday that, without this radical shock therapy enforced by the Federal Government, companies faced certain doom and the economy would fall off a cliff.
"The best blue chip companies in our country can survive a month or two without revenue, probably even a quarter, if they know with some certainty, that is the likely 'pain period','' Godfrey told City Beat.
"No business, however, on our ASX can operate for four or six months without any, or 20 per cent, of normal revenue. Our businesses are going to be broken and, make no mistake, heading over the economic abyss because of this uncertainty.''
Godfrey, who co-founded and ran Virgin Blue (now Virgin Australia) for 10 years, said that it was madness to still allow bars and restaurants to remain open or to tolerate 20,000 people gathering at Bondi Beach.
"What if we shut down all but essential services and sent everyone home to self-isolate with their family for one month?,'' he asked.
"The math would suggest we'd break the viral hold, recalibrate our strategic and co-ordinated response and guarantee the normal functioning of our hospitals.
"Most critically, from the economy's perspective, we would be offering a huge degree of business certainty and be one month closer to a vaccine.
"All staff work from home, or take one month leave, knowing that in 31 days the economy would still be there and ready to come back on line."
The alternative, he said, would be akin to death by 1000 cuts over a six-month period.
"We would see massive unemployment, failed 'well run' nationally critical businesses, monopolies arise, a massively indebted government, a generation of newly 'poor' retirees and a burden on the future the like of which we have not seen in our lifetime.''
Like any crisis, the coronavirus challenge keeps bringing out the best and worst in us.
It's disheartening, but not surprising, to see that low-life scammers are taking full advantage.
The corporate regulator announced yesterday it has already received nearly 100 complaints about the matter since the start of the year but that figure keeps growing.
The ACCC said it had multiple reports of phishing scams sent via email or text message that claim to be providing official information on coronavirus but are actually attempts to try and obtain personal data.
Rip off merchants are also flogging misinformation about supposed cures and investment scams claiming the virus has created opportunities to make money.
On a brighter note, investors are set to get a much-needed windfall in dividend payments and the timing could hardly be better.
ASX 200 companies have already forked out $5.3 billion so far this year and another $22 billion will be paid out through late May.
The money might just provide a cushion, both for shareholders and business owners, as the economy heads into a near-certain recession.
Given the cratering of demand for so many industries, you can bet the payouts will be only a tiny fraction of that amount next year.
Some rather thought-provoking graffiti, apparently inspired by the virus, appeared this week under the Story Bridge.
"Free markets will not save us,'' a vandal wrote with black spray paint.
Keeping a sense of humour is always necessary but it's particularly vital during these testing times.
To that end, there will be one noteworthy spectator of sorts tonight in an otherwise eerily-empty Suncorp Stadium, where the Broncos are clashing with the Rabbitohs.
The gang at XXXX got a large cutout of their classic icon Mr Fourex, the little winking guy in the boater hat, and have propped him up in the empty stands to preside over the game.
Originally published as Tourism leader calls for complete national shutdown