We have experienced unprecedented change as the world grappled with the economic fall-out of the CoronaVirus pandemic. The City of Fremantle streets are beginning to open up again, and as a Chamber we are working hard to lobby for Fremantle business on a number of fronts.

For the past few months, we have been working our Members to share packs on information on how to negotiate with landlords, offers of support to mediate these, packs on HR checklists to manage staff, information on decision making and managing potential insolvency risks.

We have adapted our Set the Month in Motion Podcast Forums to reach a live Facebook audience, and focussed on the important topics of how to prepare budgets in the eye of this new storm and how to manage mind, body and business in the face of what seemed like relentless decision-making and change.

The Chamber was privileged to also host our Federal Member and Shadow Minister for Small Business in a live Q&A forum, where a wide variety of our business leaders put their views to our government leaders on business impacts, telecommunications, local procurement and support packages. This was followed by a Small Business live Q&A with State Member Minister McGurk, Minister for Tourism and Small Business Minister Papilia and Local Member for Bicton Lisa O’Malley.

In addition, we have worked to meet the changing needs of our members by:

  • Providing access on FREE web based forums on the economic stimulus packages and what it means for business.
  • Lobbying local government, in particular the City, for rate relief for our businesses and tenants
  • Negotiating with individual members on their particular rental negations.
  • Releasing our own tenants who have applied for hardship claims and managing our own losses of revenue.
  • Negotiating with the federal government to release Directors and Business Owners who are at risk of trading insolvent during this period.
  • Negotiating with the federal government to assist our exporters to get flights so they can continue to export our fresh products overseas to markets.
  • Negotiating with the State government on small business packages and information.
  • Launching “Doorstep Dinners” (which was featured on 7 News on Thursday evening) with no government assistance or support to help some iconic Fremantle businesses and those most socially isolated and in need to get access to fresh meals each day.
  • Being a voice for local Fremantle business in news features across local press, and ABC news.
  • Launch of a social media campaign to share the creative ideas from those talented souls who are doing their best to keep us safe, nourished and entertained. ( #freogetscreative).
  • Working actively with the City of Fremantle Councillors as part of the City’s Economic Recovery Working Group to action some priority programs to increase footfall, reduce anti-social behaviour and continue to build Fremantle as an attractive place to do business.
  • Be a voice for Fremantle Business through media channels including local press and ABC News feature articles throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

Our 2020 Members Survey shows some optimism is still present in our membership base, and the results of this survey is presented HERE.

RESOURCES

We will continue to gather updates for our different industry sectors, and will continue to work to advocate, lobby and support Fremantle business where we can. Please continue to send us in any updates or any figures that can help with our lobbying position for different sectors. Any ideas for solving some of the challenges are also very welcome to share.

Government Packages and Resources

The Australian Federal Government and State Government have announced a variety of support package for businesses to help mitigate the ever emerging negative impacts on small business.

The areas of support from the Government include:

  • Jobkeeper packages to keep staff on the books until September. For criteria and registration visit the ATO website.
  • Cash flow payment of up to $25,000 for employers
  • 50 per cent wage subsidy for apprentices and trainees
  • Increase in the instant asset write off threshold to $150,000
  • 50 per cent accelerated depreciation for investments
  • Insolvency risks to Directors eased during COVID-19 phase 1 to 4 restrictions
  • The WA State Government relaxation of electricity and water price increases, a grant for businesses that pay payroll tax and a deferral of payroll tax payments.

Please see the attached for more information:

Extension of the JobKeeper Payment Fact Sheet

JobKeeper 2.0 – Employer Guide Addendum from the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

WHERE ARE WE AT WITH COVID-19 NOW?

It is worth remembering that contact registers are still mandatory for all businesses, the 2 metre rule is still in place for most venues and controlled borders are still in place (though thankfully still open with our Interstate neighbours).

Job Keeper will be winding up in a week or so though so the financial implications of our pandemic may start to be felt a lot harder for many businesses, particularly our retail and tourism attractions. CCI WA has released a good checklist of the end of Job Keeper and what to start to think about and put in place over the coming week. You can read more on this checklist for the end of Job Keeper here.

Job Maker is certainly worth investigating as you start to consider new positions as the world continues to open up. There is more information on the Job Maker hire credit at the ATO site link here.

For further information on the status of COVID-19 visit here.

IFAM EXTENSION FOR OUR EXPORTERS

The Australian Government announced the extension of the International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM) to keep global air links open, despite the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.​

Extending IFAM from 1 July to the end of September 2021 maintains global air connections and protects hard-fought market share, while targeting support where it is needed most and buying Australian businesses time to adjust.

Our meeting with the State Director of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade last week highlighted the Government’s priority focus on recovery and building resilience in coming months. This means for our exporters making the most of this time to align operating models to the “new-look” supply chains.

Over the coming months, IFAM will continue to work with industry and government partners to support Australian businesses on the frontline. Forward planning is key, and the Government will work with businesses to understand your needs and connect you with programs and initiatives to help you adjust, such as the recently announced Agri-business Expansion Initiative (ABEI).

Visit the IFAM webpage for IFAM updates and flights schedules, and to access IFAM support, businesses need to submit an Expression of Interest and keep in regular contact with their freight forwarder, who can book freight capacity on IFAM-supported flights and apply for IFAM grant support.

Advice for Small Business

The City of Fremantle as part of its Small Business Capacity Building Program has partnered with Chamber Members Business Foundations to deliver complimentary one-on-one advisory sessions to provide information about the Federal and State stimulus packages, and what support is available to small business via the programs. To register for a session which is provided free of charge through the City’s Small Business Capacity Building Program simply complete the registration form, select COVID-19 Federal Stimulus Advisory and email to business@fremantle.wa.gov.au.

There are some great tips on Managing Tight Cash Flow in our Set the Month in Motion Podcast, produced with support from the City of Fremantle’s Business Capacity Building Program. Well worth a re-listen to Episode 1 on ideas for maximising cash flow over low seasons. You can listen to this and catch up on other episodes anytime on your favourite station at (Apple, Google or Spotify).

The Small Business Development Commission have also put together to blogs in relation to the Federal and State government stimulus packages and a series of webinars including: · Crisis Communication · Creating a risk management plan · Seeking expert advice in uncertain times · Managing disruption to cash flow and supply chain. They also have a dedicated COVID-19 page on the Small Business Development Commission website.

Industry Sector Advice for Business Workplaces

The return of a significant number of workers back into our workplaces including those who have taken leave, were working from home or have been stood down due to COVID-19 is such a positive sign.

We have felt the shift directly in the West End and around the City as people return to their offices, a welcoming site to see movement around the streets in the sunshine. As employers we do need to make sure we have put in place some plans to ensure employee’s “sense of safety” and practicalities of sharing premises. It is worth looking over the Premier’s COVID Safety Guidelines and checking off the COVID Safety Plan for your own workplaces.

SafeWork Australia also has a number of industry specific resources and guides to safely manage the transition of workers back into our workplaces.

See HERE for more information.

Retail, Hospitality, Tourism, Arts and Community Recreation

Around 29% of our Fremantle Chamber membership is in retail, hospitality, tourism, arts and community recreation. Their staff make up our committees and the life of our Chamber and our thoughts are with them in these unprecedented times.

Specific resources to investigate if you are in this sector include:

  • Rent relief plan for small business and not-for profits that lease from Government agencies and trading enterprises that will help businesses such as those in tourism precincts, eco-tourism operators and others.
  • State of Emergency Occasional Liquor Licences have been announced for take-away for restaurants, small bar, tavern restricted, hotel restricted and club restricted and special facility caterer, with packaged liquor being limited to one bottle of wine and one 6 pack of beer, cider or mixed spirits. Application forms here and will only be accepted by email.
  • Free on-street parking and up to six months deferral of rent payments on City-owned properties introduced by the City of Fremantle today.
  • The City will also defer all statutory fees for six months and has waived alfresco dining fees.
  • The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) advice is that the primary transmission route for COVID-19 is person-to-person; it may therefore be transmitted via utensils or plates that have been handled by someone who has COVID-19. They are recommending the strictest of hygiene practices including increased rigour around catering and food service including advising staff if they feel unwell to stay at home, and deny entry to staff who are unwell, all food, including pre-packaged foods such as boxed lunches, should be prepared by staff trained in safe food handling practices and ensure hand washing facilities are accessible for staff and supplied with adequate soap and paper towels.
  • All venues will need to also ensure staff and supervisors have completed the required COVID-19 training, and all venues have in place a COVID-19 Safety Plan tailored for their specific venue.

Professional and Personal Service Businesses

For all of Fremantle’s multitude of professional services, creative design consultancies and personal and health services, systems will need to be in place to help manage social distancing, hygiene protocols and a variety of individual impacts for your specific business.

Please visit WorkSafe Australia to look at particular protocolos that maybe required for your industry sector.

Seafood and Export

The significant hit to our seafood export industry from January is easing slowly as exporters seem to be gradually getting goods through to international ports and new markets. Challenging times are still ahead as space on ships and planes become a premium and the economies of the world move closer to recession.

A lobster rescue plan was also announced by the Hon Peter Tinley, Minister for Fisheries. This will extend the lobster catch season out to 30 June 2021 and allow a greater catch of 9,000 tonnes, as well as new measures for back of boat sales to improve local sale opportunities and allowing local businesses to access larger volumes of lobster direct from the fisheries.

Export Certification Procedures at Fremantle Chamber

With respect to our own export desk here at the Chamber, we have a commitment and a responsibility to continue to issue preferential (FTA) and non-preferential Certificates of Origin to our exporters and their agents.

We continue to service both manual and electronic Certificates of Origin in a timely and accurate manner with our Office at 16 Phillimore St Fremantle.

Where you may have contact with our staff, we request you ensure good hygiene practices with respect to hand washing prior to handling documents and maintain appropriate social distances at all times.

General Advice

A FACTS Sheet is available here.

Chamber Member David Spencer from Business & Insolvency Solutions has worked hard over the last day or two to produce a great advice piece on risks here, exclusively for Fremantle Chamber Members. This is outlined above.

Further information on the pandemic is available from the Australian Government Department of Health.

As consumers we encourage each one of you to think about ways that you can continue to support our local businesses now, and in the future when they are really going to need it. We also need to be doing everything we can to support local dining and take out, buying local produce and supporting those venues spacing tables and demonstrating extra-ordinarily good hygiene procedures.

If nothing else, when all this crazy is over we will have raised a generation of children who know how to wash their hands and listen to their grandmother’s advice to keep some money in the bank for that rainy day!

For further information, or information on packages of support for businesses affected by COVID-19, please contact the Chamber’s Membership & Committee Officer.