NSW govt calls business summit amid COVID

The NSW government will convene a business “summer summit” to explore ways to stimulate the economy over the busy New Year period despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet announced the summit a day after Australia officially entered its first recession in almost 30 years, with the NSW economy contracting 8.6 per cent in the June quarter.

The summit later this month will seek ideas on how to stimulate economic success for businesses over the Christmas/New Year period despite the effects of the pandemic and last season’s unprecedented bushfires.

National accounts data on Wednesday confirmed national GDP collapsed by seven per cent in the June quarter and around 6.3 per cent in the 12 months to June.

The 8.6 per cent decline in NSW for the June quarter was the worst of all states and territories and the worst in the state’s history.

Mr Perrottet said the Christmas period was often a make or break time for NSW retailers, with December retail spending last year hitting $11.2 billion.

Tourism was also worth around $3 billion each month to the NSW economy, hitting $3.9 billion in December and $4.6 billion in January as people go on summer holidays.

The Sydney Business Chamber in a statement on Thursday welcomed the summit, saying collaboration was required to revive the $130 billion CBD economy.

“Prior to the pandemic, the CBD equated to around 20 per cent of state GDP. It is home to the headquarters and offices of national and international corporations and thousands of small businesses, delivering over 670,000 jobs and attracting visitors to places including Circular Quay, Darling Harbour and The Rocks,” executive director Katherine O’Regan said.

“The COVID crisis has taken people out of city offices, shops and streets, causing major disruption to this vital ecosystem and for it to recover, there needs to be both quick fixes and longer-term changes to work patterns and land use of both public and private spaces.”

Lobby group Business NSW on Wednesday called for significant fiscal support in the federal budget, with 134,000 fewer employed people in NSW compared to March.

“The June quarter national accounts confirmed Australia entered deep recession in the June quarter, underscoring the case for more government support until there is a sufficient recovery in private demand to pick up the slack,” Business NSW CEO Nola Watson said.

NSW Labor on Wednesday also urged the Berejiklian government to release a jobs plan, saying the government had underspent on vital support programs for business.

The state budget will be handed down on November 17.

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