NZ legislated to help hospo business and workers — now is Australia’s time to act, writes Olivia Rockwell

Olivia Rockwell pictured at Restaurant Hubert in 2018. Photo: Christopher Pearce

Olivia Rockewll is the restaurant manager at Continental Deli Bar Bistro in Sydney’s CBD, and was named the 2018 Host of the Year at the Bartender Magazine Australian Bar Awards.

We need to begin a concerted effort to lobby our local, state and federal members of parliament for assistance. Call or email, or both!

And call and email until we see real action.

Hospo businesses run on small margins, so a loss of business over an extended period of time means they will most certainly have to cut staff, and some may have got shut their doors for good.

We need assistance to save our industry. No amount of hand sanitiser is going to bring people back to our venues until this unprecedented crisis subsides.

I am lucky enough to work for wonderful people who are making every effort to keep our people employed, but that is not the same story for everyone.

I’ve already spoken to many people who have already been laid off or their hours reduced to nothing, and small venue owners who have seen trade dwindle to nothing. How are they supposed to support staff without the government having a clear plan on how to manage the collapse of an entire industry?

Think of your co-workers and friends, many of whom are hospitality professionals and rely solely on this industry for their livelihood. Getting a job “stocking shelves at Coles until this blows over” is not a solution and WE CANNOT WORK FROM HOME.

The New Zealand government has already passed comprehensive legislation to help protect small business and workers. These are the two groups that are being devastated by the current situation, and stand to lose the most both in the short and long term.

“The [New Zealand] Government has unveiled a $12.1 billion support package for the New Zealand economy, with almost half of the cash to be spent on a wage subsidy package for all coronavirus-impacted businesses,” the New Zealand Herald wrote on Tuesday.

“Those full-time workers eligible for the package will receive $585 per week from the Government, paid in a lump sum package of just over $7000 covering a 12-week period.”

You can read more about New Zealand’s response here.

The Australian hospitality industry and the people who work on it deserve better. Get loud people! We need to demand action from the people we have elected to represent us, and who we pay with our hard-earned tax dollars.

No one is going to do anything unless you tell them to. Signing a petition isn’t enough — call and email your local members until we see real action. You can locate your federal representatives at the link below. This is an issue for our industry nationwide, and it only takes a minute to tell them how you’ve been impacted.

We’re all in this together.

You can find your local federal member and senator on the Australian parliament website here.

Take a look below at the links to find your local state and territory members.