“The vaccine roll-out is hopelessly delayed and the reopening of international borders is looking further and further away,” Mr Lambert said.
NSW Tourism Industry Council executive manager Greg Binskin called on the federal government to extend its $1.2 billion half-price airfare program to more destinations, especially capital cities.
He also wants specific government support to help tourism operators maintain infrastructure and equipment underutilised during the pandemic.
“We really need targeted support for affected businesses,” he said. “It’s not just a one size fits all model.”
Analysis by Westpac shows accommodation and food services will be the sector hardest hit by the end of JobKeeper with job losses of more than 23,000 nationally.
But Westpac economist Justin Smirk said the effect on employment due to the withdrawal of the wage subsidy program will be drawn out.
“These losses won’t occur in one hit but will be spread over a number of months as firms assess the economics of their labour force and the viability of their business,” he said.
Phillip Joel, who runs seven Kwik Kopy franchises in Sydney including one in the CBD, said he would need to shed seven or eight of his 30 staff because of the end of JobKeeper.
“We had no choice but to scale back our business,” he said. “We’ve had to let go of staff, other staff have had hours cut by between 20 and 40 per cent.”
Mr Joel said big companies should not have claimed JobKeeper after their businesses had turned around after the early lockdowns last year.
“They claimed money and made an absolute killing over this period,” Mr Joel said. “It’s a disgrace.”
Mr Fadda also says it is unfair that big businesses that had experienced a boom in business during the pandemic were able to claim JobKeeper, while smaller ones like his had struggled.
“Not only did big businesses make the most income, they got the most relief,” Mr Fadda said.
A recent report by governance experts Ownership Matters found the JobKeeper program helped boost the underlying profits of about 10 per cent of the sharemarket’s top 300 listed companies.
Sydney Business Chamber executive director Katherine O’Regan said the COVID pandemic had been tough on her membership including big and small businesses alike.
“It has been challenging for those small businesses which have been integral to the life of the CBD,” she said.
“You can’t just have big business there if you can’t get your coffee and you can’t go to a restaurant and you can’t get your hair cut … all of those tenants are equally important to the ecosystem and the economy.”
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Matt Wade is a senior economics writer at The Sydney Morning Herald.
Anna Patty is a Senior Writer for The Sydney Morning Herald with a focus on higher education. She is a former Workplace Editor, Education Editor, State Political Reporter and Health Reporter.