Economic Stimulus & Survival Business Forum

This online event provided the City of Port Phillip business community with a rare opportunity to hear from Government representatives and industry experts.

City of Port Phillip Economic Stimulus & Business Forum

The running time of this video is approximately 1 hour, 50 minutes. Due to a technical issue during the session, the original video recording of the presentation has been replaced for the purpose of providing a better quality presentation.

Speakers shared the current economic status of Port Phillip’s community, communicated opportunities and Government assistance on offer and had an interactive session on possible options that could be included in the draft Council 2020/21 budget.

Speakers include:

  • Bernadene Voss, Mayor of the City of Port Phillip
  • Senator the Hon Jane Hume, Assistant Minister for Superannuation, Financial Services and Financial Technology, on behalf of Treasurer Josh Frydenberg
  • Barbara Cullen, Director of Small Business Victoria
  • Felicia Mariani, CEO of Victoria Tourism Industry Council (VTIC)
  • Paul Guerra, CEO of Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI)
  • Steve Bentley, Vice President of Mainstreet Australia
  • Peter Smith, CEO City of Port Phillip


Questions for Felicia Mariani, Victorian Tourism Industry Council:

With the closure of Destination Melbourne, how can Metropolitan Councils receive support for tourism with regards to marketing and development. Will there be a program for metro councils, not just regional councils or the CBD?

That’s a question that’s asked quite a lot and I know that there has been a lot of discussion on that topic. I guess, first of all we have heard loud and clear that there is no appetite at the moment to create another regional tourism board for Melbourne because the issues around why regional tourism boards were created was because they had a distinct set of circumstances that were trying to be dealt with but how Melbourne, and when I say Melbourne I mean Greater Melbourne, not just Melbourne CBD, how that engages or how those councils or indeed the operators within those areas engage or have a pathway to engagement with Government as well as Visit Victoria from a marketing point of view. So I know that through some of the groups that I sit on at the moment, I know that the City of Melbourne is actually looking to, I just spoke with Louise last night about this- Louise Scott, and they are looking to convene a meeting of the IMAP Councils of which I know City of Port Phillip is a member. That will be the first start. Let’s get those local councils in the surrounding area around Melbourne engaged and discussing. And then we are talking about how we can start to develop some sort of structured pathway for engagement both from a development point of view, so the things that are happening within tourism events and the visitor economy but then also from a marketing perspective and things that visit Victoria is doing. So we are actively in the middle of that trying to open some of those pathways and channels because it is a very clear deficiency that exists in the current structure and we are looking at finding creative ways to address that.

Questions for Barbara Cullen, Director, Small Business Victoria:

Thanks so much for offering the fantastic grants program. Will there be a second round of small business grants?

Well that is actually a question for the Government. That’s a decision for Government but the business support fund how now has a total budget of $750 Million so that is an extraordinary amount of money in grants to go out to small businesses who don’t meet that payroll tax refund eligibility criteria. In terms of whether there will be another fund, I can’t answer that, but there is lots of other support that is available to businesses to help them with the emergence now back to some form of operations. Whether they are looking to improve their skills or looking to open up some sort of street facing business as well. There is lots of guidelines being published on the website.

Questions for Paul Guerra, CEO, Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Have you seen businesses that can only accept 10 – 20 visitors, choose not open to as it is not worthwhile?

It varies around the state. Some have chosen to open, some haven’t chosen to open but our sense is by the end of the week pretty much every venue that can open, will open. Let’s be clear though that the 20 is not good enough for where we need to be and let’s also be clear that the 4 square metre rule isn’t going to work for hospitality longer term. We’ve already seen Western Australia take a different perspective on that. We are in conversations on how we get that lifted for all Victorian venues as well. We know we need to make the venue safe, but we also need to make sure that they are viable longer term as well. So, the quicker we can move to more people congregating in an area, albeit safely, the better it will be. Yesterday the buzz around the city was great. We are seeing some of the restaurants opening up for lunch. And as I said, I know there will be more opening through the backend of this week as well. And certainly, the pickup we have had from regional Victoria is that they’re operating pretty well within the 20 limit. So, there is enough to smile about in the short term but we do want to get to more people coming into the venues in a very quick period of time.

Questions for Steve Bentley, Vice President, Mainstreet Australia:

Do you know of any successful urban projects that have been done during the COVID-19 crisis that you think might work in Port Phillip?

Steve - I think the best thing is, that Council’s like Port Phillip are custodians of a lot of space, public space and its actually asking that question, well how might we make available that space. Now whether it’s a footpath or a carparking space to enable businesses to spillout onto, which is half addressing what Paul just said, while we transition to it being viable to use inside. But then also the customers, are people going to need click and collect for quite a while yet? Are people still going to want to look at other transport means? So I think that use of public space is something we can talk to businesses about how they might use them. I think from a general public point of view, people want to get out of their homes and into public space near beaches and parkland but they are going to expect from us as Council’s to say they are clean, they are safe, people will be cautious otherwise so I think we need to do that. An initiative that I saw was City of Perth are offering $10,000 grants for public art because they see that art and public art, number one it lifts people’s spirits and it presents a beautiful place but it helps a community express their stories and their feelings and actually help come out of this once in a century pandemic so it could be putting the two together to say well maybe through public art we can continue to beautify a place but we can also help engage our community to come out of this in a healthy way.

Felicia – I just heard this today in a lot of the conversations that we’ve been having around recovery and really trying to come out of the difficult situation we have been in. And I think this is something for Council’s to think about so I’d like to posit this. From our events group, they were talking about is there some way to get some of the speedhumps out of the road when it comes to shifting and having more things on footpaths. There has always been restrictions in some of those places that have made it a bit tough. And some of our events committee that we meet with regularly, they were talking about how great it would be if we could create some, even if its just for a temporary period of time, that people might have temporary licences to do things or perform in different ways. I mean this is how the laneways and the rooftop bars, that’s how they were invented in Melbourne. We actually responded to something that happened in a creative and unique way. And I think there is an opportunity for Council to work pretty closely with some of the businesses and events to get some of those speedhumps out of the way and do some really different and creative things.

Peter – I’ll just respond to that by saying we already have CEO delegations in our placemaking areas to do just that. To take some of those regulatory things out of the way. And I know that one of the suggestions to council is to look at as part of this process is to maybe extend that to allow better use and quicker use of public space, whilst inside space is currently so restricted. That will be an issue that Council will look at for those that are listening.

General Questions:

Port Phillip, and St Kilda in particular, has taken a profound and massive hit with the perfect storm of restrictions in hospo, tourism, recreation and arts. What options are open to Council to support or stimulate these sectors? And particularly for Port Phillip CEO Peter Smith, does he believe the Council has the expertise needed to provide the necessary leadership to help the hard hit sectors recover and thrive?

Mayor: There are a variety of options that Officers have prepared for Council to consider.These will be reviewed alongside the feedback we receive today and the information already received from Landlords and Traders and then Council will put a program into the draft budget for community consultation.

Peter Smith: Importantly in forums like this the first skill is listening to your community. Forums like this help the Councillors understand needs out there as well as myself as the CEO and our administration. I think we have a very talented group of staff who are passionate about this community and wanting to help. The first skill is listening and certainly we are looking at the expertise we are going to need in the organization, not just to help this Council but recognizing that we will have a new Council toward the end of this year and in the new year.There needs to be some capacity and capability to help that Council with the directions that they choose.

For Peter Smith (and Bernadene Voss): Could you please explain the rationale for the seeming disparity of priority in the choice to spend in excess of $1.3m on an unnecessary and superficial works outside of Luna Park? This proposal will employ some tradespeople who may largely be from outside the CoPP whereas investments of a measly $75-150,000 on initiatives such as Renew and the Hoyne project which will inject money and life into the heart of the business community of Fitzroy St (and Acland St). As Felicia just reinforced - now more than ever is the time to invest in the future, not to pull back on spending. Redirecting spending into business and community investment which has a multiplier effect for the CoPP and its stakeholders rather than superficial beautification that does not.

Peter Smith: Just talking about Luna park, when Council prioritised projects for this budget and next year, that was done against some very strong criteria. The first criteria was, that first levels would be funded where things that were about community safety and whilst people may not realise it from the media, the work outside of Lund Park was initially funded to prevent hostile vehicle mitigation in what is a very very busy area. So, it came up as a priority project because it is actually about protecting people and making sure people are safe from hostile vehicles in a usually very busy part of st Kilda. Importantly, part of that criteria too was if we could get co-contribution. So, $1.3 Million of that project is funded by the State Government and whilst Council are putting in the hostile vehicle measures, obviously it became a great opportunity to make it really nice visually improve the plaza and grass lawn area. So, a project that met all of Council’s criteria for funding. In terms of the Renew and the Hoyne projects, the Hoyne project is a matter for the Fitzroy Street Traders Association and I believe the proposal by Andrew Hoyne was for visioning work which has already been completed through the Placemaking Reference Group. If the association wants to push ahead with that using Special Rates, it’s in their remit to put that proposal forward and ensure that can be done under their rates funding agreement. So really that’s a matter for the Trader’s Association if they believe that is a priority for the special rates.

For the past 10 years COPP have discussed on numerous occasions strategies and initiatives to improve the state of Fitzroy Street vacant tenancies. Over the past 10 years nothing has worked. Recently Andrew Hoyne presented to the trader’s association a strategy that many traders agreed would be the best way forward. Is the COPP aware of this presentation and if so what is being done to activate it? if it is unknown, who is the best person to address this with Andrew Hoyne and the traders association?

This is a matter for the Fitzroy Street Traders Association. I believe that the proposal from Andrew Hoyne, is for Visioning work that has already been completed by our Placemaking Team in collaboration with the Association and community.If the Association believes that the Hoyne work will benefit their Traders, then they need to meet the needs of their Special Rates Funding Agreement.

Hello Mayor Voss and CEO Peter, I'm wondering what additional supports the city is providing to small businesses that are not shopfront traders - outside of the Fed and State Gov supports? Most business owners like myself (creative agency) know all the fed and state supports available, have submitted applications and been denied for various reasons not meeting criteria (I had a baby last year, downscaled for maternity leave and don't know meet 30% drop because of having baby. My casual staff don't qualify. We got knocked back from Small Biz Vic grant and won't be eligible for round 2 due to the need to be enrolled for jobkeeper). Will you consider creating grants for businesses like ours that don't meet any of your current relief offerings? Or grants for female business owners? I think it is massive discrimination that my business is missing out on supports because I had a baby last year...I employ 3 people, run a profitable business, pay lots of tax and I think we should receive some support

Mayor: I think what the City of Port Phillip is doing is looking for gaps and looking to help. Our businesses, our community where the state and the federal government has missed them so if this is something you feel is really important, I think you need to contribute to the discussion and this is one way to do it. We will definitely have a look at that and see what we can possibly do, I certainly feel for you in that taking maternity leave has meant that your income is not as normal, and you don’t qualify so it’s all about timing there. It is a difficult issue, but we will certainly take that on board and would love to hear more from you.

Peter Smith: I might just add that Council aren’t just looking at funding measures, there are a range of things that Council can do including advocacy to State and Federal Government where there are gaps in assistance, council has an important role in advocacy. And in terms of economic assistance it is quite rightly a State Government or Federal Government issue to address if there are gaps and a part of this process is to listen to businesses and create strong advocacy for those gaps to be filled. There are a range of measures that the council are considering some of them are not about grants, some of them are identifying where there are gaps where they can advocate so if you believe there are gaps it is really important that you send that through to Council and we take up the viduals with the necessary State and Federal departments to point out those gaps in relief and stimulus for our local businesses.

We know of many businesses in the City of Port Phillip area who are seriously considering locating to other areas across Melbourne where Government support and stimulus packages are available. City of Melbourne and several other local governments have been taking the lead providing valuable support for stimulating new business hubs, jobs, and industry - both ongoing and for covid-19. C3X’s Australia headquarters is currently based in City of Port Phillip. We are interested to understand what support will be available for Businesses in the Municipality to drive new jobs and investment?

Mayor: That’s an interesting question. I see that City of Port Phillip is a wonderful place to live, work and play. And we don’t want anyone or any businesses pretty much going anywhere, so we are currently discussing how we can best support our community during this period and we will announce a range of measures in the draft budget which will be released on June 17th. I’d just like to really encourage you to make sure you view our draft budget and you provide your feedback during the consultation period. Because we want to know that if you feel the measures we are making available will be useful and whether we have missed anything.

There is far too much red tape - for example why do cafes/restaurants have to pay for kerbside trading? What does this cost Council?

Peter Smith: Council does have Footpath Trading Guidelines where we endeavour to balance the many competing uses of our footpaths, including outdoor dining to achieve a vibrant and prosperous local economy. The income from that last year from that was around $800,000.

That income goes to support a range of local services including the beautification, cleaning and maintenance of our streets, in addition to the footpath trading officers, who directly support traders and are a conduit to other parts of Council. Importantly, there was a new footpath trading fee policy introduced, approved by Council last year, which tailored the fees to each of our commercial precincts and that resulted in a reduction in fees for over 80% of the traders who use the footpaths. And in addition, as a part of Council’s emergency relief package footpath trading fees were waived from April to June at a cost of $200k. I know Council are looking and one of the options they may consider is the extension of that waiver. So again, I encourage you to put that into your budget submissions so that Council can hear your views on that.

What does COPP plan to do to support local businesses? City of Maribyrnong regularly provide newsletters, webinars and mentoring support (via Business Victoria) to small business.

Peter Smith: We do have a Placemaking team and importantly since this pandemic started and since the lockdown started we have not confined the Placemaking team just to the Placemaking areas in fact we have extended that Placemaking teams effort out to try and talk to all of the business activity centres in the municipality, which is why it’s great today that we have got people from many activity centres who are coming to talk and listen and hear from Council for the first time. The Placemaking team have already has commenced offering business support services such as webinars, newsletters and advice on the packages and grants and those are available on the Love My Place Website. Importantly, the feedback from this Forum, will also inform what other business activity including engagement, that we need to have going forward, as I think Steve Bentley in his presentation, that the base of where we have a co-ordinated effort are the ones that are most likely to be the most resilient. So, I know that speaking to Council they are aware that any listening and engagement is done on an equitable basis not just in places that we have a placemaking program. That extension out of the listening and talking to people and planning of future engagement and communication, I know is very much a part of the teams thinking and they will be considered by Council again. It is one of those measures that don’t cost money but are actually about working well with your community.

What initiatives does council have planned to simulate visitation to Port Phillip by friends of locals and visitors from surrounding suburbs and beyond?

That’s an interesting one and we have quite a bit planned although this is not out yet. See we are currently working on a series of neighbourhood-based promotional campaigns and really looking forward to launching these over the next couple of months.

Question for Felicia - how does CoPP investment of $2.95m so far compare with support put in place by other Councils with key Victorian tourism attractions?

Felicia: That would be an enormous investment in the tourism industry, but I couldn’t really make a call on how that compares, I don’t have those sorts of stats.

Peter Smith: I would just comment that is an initial investment by Council, an initial response and that was bearing in mind affordability at that time. And that support was for the next 3-6months knowing that council would provide additional support as a part of this budget process. And that part of this engagement today is to understand that from you as a community, what the priorities of that support from Council will be, given Council’s role.

Why does the COPP continue to allocate funds into initiatives such as the Place Making program when fundamentally these programs have added little to no value to improving the safety or aesthetic of the Fitzroy St community? The program members claim they have had many successful initiatives however I challenge any member of COPP to walk the street with myself and other traders and show us where the ROI? Is there any funding or support for new businesses to set up on Fitzroy Street?

Peter Smith: I think part of the placemaking work on Fitzroy Street is as Steve Bentley said, to try to get a coordinated approach to a street which is obviously struggling. And I think having spent time walking at different times of the day and night and talking to traders and businesses directly myself on Fitzroy Street, I think part of the gain is actually having people working together and trying to find solutions to a street that is suffering from a number of the trends that Steve talked about and some of which were accelerated. Having said that I’d encourage you to go to the Love My Place website which talks about the Place Plan that has been engaged with over 100 community members, some of the great things that have happened through the Love My Place grants; The Gippsland Bushfire Recovery shops; the bin wraps, some of the art projects; joint patrols between our Local Laws team and Victoria Police. They are just some of the things. These things do take time, and they are about community working together, as Steve said, in a coordinated way.

Mayor: It’s not just in Fitzroy Street too that this program runs, there are other places in the municipality that are very successful as well. So, I have to say unfortunately the timing of COVID-19 put a bit of a stop on the Comeback Bushfire Recovery shops but that was going to be really quite incredible. I’m sure there is more where that comes from after COVID has retired, if I can put it like that. You asked also if there was funding or support for new businesses to set up in Fitzroy Street and if that is something that you would like Council to consider, we would really ask you to make a submission when our draft budget is released on 17 June. So, all programs offered by Council will be for the whole of the municipality to benefit from rather than just one street. So, we really have to make it equal across our whole municipality.

Question to Paul and Felicia - would the VCCI and VTIC be interested to supporting the revitalisation of places like Fitzroy Street given it's a tourist and business hub known at an international level and is struggling.

Felicia: We’ve had a few other plans that sort of got postponed if you will because of COVID but we have been working pretty closely with Anita and her team and in fact we participated in assisting around the great initiative that you did post the bushfires where a number of your establishments along Fitzroy Street actually allowed us to activate them with some of our tourism operators from the High Country and from Gippsland. It was actually cracking on and doing really really well and unfortunately we had to abort basically because of the issues related to the COVID restrictions. I know that we were also looking at how we could incorporate some of that through our events committee that we work with. The Grand Prix was also very interested in how they could maybe help in some way and we were looking to maybe move some of those operators and bring them into an environment within a big major event where they could potentially promote their destination and promote their offerings. But sadly as I said some of that just had to ground to a holt as a result of the restrictions so we are very keen to pick back up again and look at how we can work with our operators and things that we can do to help in the revitalizing and indeed the reanimation of what is such a famous street in our precinct areas.

Paul: Indeed it is a famous street in fact one of my favourite bars in Melbourne is on there, the Cross. So if you haven’t had a drink or something to eat at the Cross you need to get down there. I will be actually in Fitzroy Street for dinner tonight as it turns out. What I’d say is that this is a phenomenon across all of Victoria, in fact across the whole of the country. No-one wants to be here, no one wants to be dealing with what the local Council, Port Phillip Council and the Mayor – you have a great Mayor in Mayor Voss and a great CEO in Peter as well, everybody is dealing with it as best as we can. The best way we can get out of it is to keep the virus at bay and that starts with downloading the COVID-SAFE app because then we can start tracking it and the quicker we get the virus under control because lets be honest, the vaccines 12 months away, the quicker we can get the virus under control the quicker we can work with Government to lift the restrictions that currently exist. Once the restrictions come off, then we can get back to getting some hope of normality because we all want to get out again and we all want to do business again. That’s the overarching sentiment that I’m hearing from business. That said, we know it’s tough. We are no different to any other business, we are doing it tough as well. But you have one of the best listeners and the best advocators within the State Government within the call today and that is Barbara Cullen.Barbara is brilliant at actually understanding what is going on and turning that into relief. I’ve worked with Barbara on the small business grants and I’m working with Barbara on the Night Time Economy as well. So, think through what you need, no-one wants to be on handouts, we get that but what do you need from an industry perspective? Come back through Peter, come back through Mayor Voss. We will stand with you and you have my absolute commitment that I will come back and work with Barbara on the state on that as well. We will get out of this, and the quicker we can keep the virus suppressed, the better we are going to be because we can all come out and get to the business that we know and love.

Cr Brand: Do you think Council's main priority in the current crisis should be to offer direct financial relief / discounts, etc, or to maintain or ramp up its services?"

Steve Bentley: Trying to think of the quote about teaching a man to fish, in my experience having been 30 years managing places and with Mainstreet Australia I am a real fan of building capacity in others. I don’t support models where there is dependency on something like Local Government. One of the speakers said, “How can we grow out of this?” I think that is the answer. How can we build capacity in our community, within our business community? How can we give skills to recover? How can we look at those green shoots and those opportunities that are before us and Felicia said it “How much tourism money goes overseas?” Say okay they aren’t going to take all their money to Bali, they are going to need it and going to want to get out. How can we engage and get that money in the place. Ideally businesses do that on their own, but there might be a need to offer some training and coaching and mentoring but at the end of the day we are building a strength and a resilience and that capacity so that people don’t need Council to bail them out. And I’m not saying don’t have grants because there is an immediacy of it but I would much rather see that we build capacity than fix a problem with a Band-Aid on it now.

Paul: Council is no different to any other business, you have to live within your means. Without knowing what the balance sheet or your P and L is, it’s really difficult to comment. My call would be to everybody, do what you need to within your means and when you need help put your hand up. That help may be assistance from a grant, that may be mental health assistance as well. Put your hand up because now is the time to ask. You’ll be amazed what will happen when you do that. You’ll be amazed how many people are attuned to actually listening. You as an individual have a role to play as well. We are all consumers at the end of the day so our behaviour is no different to their behaviour as well so you can support it by getting out there and supporting local business. Hyper local first, then local, then suburban, then regionally and beyond the state. It is up to each of us to do it. We’ve done our bit to an extent, we waived our membership fee and we’ve made it possible for every business in Victoria to get access to the advocacy and the advice that they need through that free membership. We’ve done that because we were able to do that, that doesn’t mean that every other organisation is able to do that. I think that is one of those horses for courses, everybody doing their little bit means it will go a long way. Importantly, lets get this virus squashed so we can get back to business because ultimately that is what we all want. We don’t want handouts, we want to get back to business.

Barbara: Thank you. I fully agree with what Steve and Paul have said but I’d also add to that if people who own businesses who have ideas about regulation that is getting in the way, that you have opportunities and Mayor Voss has articulated that through the consultation that is happening on the budget, to let Council know about regulatory impediments that you are experiencing because that’s how large numbers of businesses can benefit and that’s through red tape reduction. Basically, improving regulatory services, access to information and those sorts of initiatives, really do help businesses to start and grow much faster and we’ve got evidence that proves that. City of Port Phillip was one of the participants of a program that the Victorian Government has been delivering with local councils across the state called “The Better Approvals Project” and that is aimed at helping retail and hospitality businesses to start and grow through regulatory improvements.

Felicia: Look what everyone said I would agree with. I think there is a place in Government at a Federal, State and Local level that have all stepped up at the time when they needed to most and that was in the absolute crisis period of our shutdown. The hibernation period was when we needed that help. When we come out of this now into recovery, I think this is where, to Steve’s point, this is about capability building and capacity building. It’s about making sure that the industry, any industry whether it’s tourism, hospitality, retail, I don’t care which industry it is, it needs to be about having the skills and the capacity to be resilient because this is going to happen again. Let’s be realistic, these crises don’t happen once in a generation, once in a lifetime anymore. These things happen on a regular occurrence and we need to be better at responding. One of the things we’ve seen in particular, and I think you Steve talked about this, the reliance on digital and how that has emerged.Yes, the consumers have become more adept to having it, but we still have a lot of operators who are not really as adept as they should be. I was astounded to walk around my strip shops here and the people who had signs in their windows to say “oh geez we don’t have a website yet but we are working on that” or “we don’t have the ability to transact online but we are working on that”. That should have been done a long time before this crisis hit. You don’t create that stuff in the middle of a crisis but the reality is we have to do a lot of work to prepare our industry to actually engage in more creative ways and that is about building more capability, that is about training and education. We can create a much more resilient society generally if we actually take the time to educate, prepare and train and that’s what we need to learn from this and that’s what we need to implement. So how about we all contribute to that, invest in that and make that happen. To me that is important and that will be the measure of how we succeed out of this crisis in terms of how we bring people along to a new level of competency to be resilient in the future.

Hi All, I'm from Milk the Cow and we're really interested to hear if Council will be able to be flexible in giving us a very quick permit for a marquee in our Footpath trading zone so we can seat additional customers and maximise our space during social distancing. As you can appreciate, every day counts right now for us as does every dollar. I spoke to Footpath trading yesterday who said there was currently no expedited process in place.

That’s a specific request. If you could email me through that request to my email, I will have a look at that request for you tomorrow.

How will projects be decided? Will money be fairly allocated across the municipality?

That’s a really interesting one. The process that we go through is one of a budget one. Consultation is done through the community. The community tells us what they like and they don’t like and at the end of the day the officers will make some recommendations based upon what they feel is the best response and the Councillors will then decide whether that is the right answer or not. Basically, on what they know from the community.

Questions for Senator Jane Hume – not in Q&A.

  • Will Jobkeeper or Jobseeker continue past September?
  • Into the future, as people have had to dip into super, will you be offering a co-contribution program, to re-establish their super balances?
  • What are the Government’s plans for future assistance with most programs running out in September?
  • Will there be a review or thorough reform of I.R. process? Look at what happened in the past when there were mistakes with Fair Work Australia. The current Awards are far too complicated and Why is the Hospitality Industry saddled with unsustainable Weekend and Public Holiday rates?

That’s the question on many people’s lips. As I said at the beginning, when we were looking at building these measures we made sure that they were targeted, that they were proportional, that they were saleable and that they were temporary. There was a really important lesson that I think that we learned during the GFC that you can make some really important changes but if you bake it into long term spending it takes a very very long time to unwind the goodwill of economic recovery and to remove the dependency on Government Assistance. So, JobKeeper has always had an end date in mind which is the end of September, but I think both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have made it clear that there will still be at that time, if we are on the trajectory we are on now, a number of industries that will still require some form of Government support. So, its not as if the rug has been pulled out from underneath everybody, we are still monitoring the situation very carefully. And, there might be a number of other measures, they might not necessarily be JobKeeper, but there will be a number of measures in place to support those businesses when they need it.

Well actually we already do offer a co-contribution program for people that are on low incomes. That’s been around for a really long time. It’s something that isn’t taken up as much as it possibly could be. It’s very hard to find a silver lining in these types of circumstances, but I think if you can find one it’s that the 1.8 million Australians that have already tapped into their super, many of them have never engaged in the superannuation system before. This will be the first time they have really thought about; “What has happened to that nearly ten percent of my earnings that I give away each week, each month, each fortnight. Where has that been going? Who has been looking after it? What have they been investing in? Are they responding to me when I need it the most? What is it costing me to take that money out of the system now? What will it cost me in the future?” And there are some great calculators out there by Moneysmart, ASIC and others that will give you an indication of what the opportunity coast is of taking that money out now. But I think more importantly, there are a lot of people who understand, everybody understands, that there is a trade-off to that decision and now they are looking at ways that they can make up the difference in the future. Now one of the things this Government has done is introduce things like, carry-over credits from previous years, when you make a concessional contribution at the moment you’ve got up to $25,000 that you can contribute concessionally each year. If you don’t contribute the entire $25,000 you can actually carry forward that $25,000 and roll it on year on year which is fantastic. So non-concessional contributions, you can contribute up to $100,000 a year and you can actually bring forward that. So, Great Aunty Mary dies and leaves you some money for the first time, you can actually contribute some money into super. You can put that in up to $300,000 in one hit and that’s 3 years worth of contributions you can bring forward into one go. So, there’s plenty of opportunities to contribute to super and we would encourage people to do so.

Unfortunately, as I said, we know that everything that we did was targeted and scalable and temporary. It had to be temporary because of the sheer scale of the role out of the program is entirely unsustainable into the future. But what we can say is that it has saved a huge number of business. There will be some businesses, hand on heart, that just won’t be able to survive this and that from a Government’s perspective that has been so focused on job creation and growth, that is heartbreaking. But we want to be able to support as many as possible to make sure that they are viable on the other side.It might not be the same type they are receiving now, but there will be support there.

Good question. I’ll answer it in a sort of general way I think. I think what you have seen from the Government now is not just a focus on dealing with the effect of the virus today, but what we want to look like on the other side. Business as usual is not an option. We are going to need to create a high performing, high growth economy in order to come out of this using growth as the response rather than using taxation as a response and I think the Prime Minister has made that clear. We are going to grow our way out of this, not tax our way out of this. In order to do that we are going to need to create a whole new framework through which the economy can work. We are going to need to look at IR reform. We are going to need to look at tax reform. We are going to need to look at regulatory reform. A number of the regulations that potentially were applied to businesses large and small throughout the Corona virus were actually eased and low and behold I think we realised that some of those regulations we didn’t actually need in the first place. That’s terrific. And I think that over the top, the other Government responsibility is making sure there is new opportunities and new markets for businesses out there. Which is why we look at things like free trade agreements in the UK and the EU.So that is the framework through which the new economy is going to have to operate in order to grow at the rate that we need. And the Prime Minister has been quite open about his enthusiasm for a job-maker package. A new approach to a modern-day accord style approach to industrial relations. So, I think that everybody agrees that the award system is way too complex and it is becoming a drag on productivity and a drag on growth. And that is part of that discussion. I think that it is terrific the way that everyone has come to the table in a very bipartisan way, lay down their arms and said how are we going to get this economy moving again?

What funding/marketing is COPP providing to promote tourism in arguably, the most popular destination in Melbourne after the CBD?

We contribute considerably to tourism in Port Phillip via the provision of events such as St Kilda Festival and the South Melbourne and Esplanade Markets and we also run the Explore Port Phillip online channels that are aimed at visitors. We would encourage you to let Council know about what you would like to see in this area by providing feedback to the draft Council Plan and Budget 2020/21.

Thank you for putting tourism on your agenda. Congratulations on maintaining position six or seven on the visitor attractions list for St Kilda. With over 50 hotels in the City of Port Phillip, I’m wondering what plans the City of Port Phillip have to maintain this position and to attract overnight stays from intrastate and interstate.

Council is considering tourism and economic recovery options and we encourage you to have your say on the draft budget which was released on 17 June.

What funding/marketing is available to help promote tourism in arguably, the most popular destination in Melbourne after the CBD?

Council is considering tourism and economic recovery options and we encourage you to have your say on the draft budget that was released on 17 June.

What marketing is being undertaken to promote the fabulous new ‘what’s on St Kilda’ website?

We’re promoting What’s On St Kilda via several channels including our Explore Port Phillip social media channels (to our 15.2k Facebook followers and 5,260 Instagram followers). For the past year, the what’s on St Kilda website has received over 47,000 pageviews. It currently sits alongside the broader Explore Port Phillip website, that has received over 73,000 pageviews, which is significant exposure for tourism businesses in the municipality.

The website was established to make the most of SEO opportunities and capitalise on search terms, in line with industry standards like ‘what’s on melbourne’. Businesses and events listed on Whats on St Kilda and Explore Port Phillip are also automatically connected and captured on the Visit Victoria and event listing websites, thus reaching a wider audience.

How can we make sure funding goes to stimulate more business activity, rather than prop up and save?

The feedback from this Forum, is one way that Council is seeking input on how to design initiatives that will create further activity for businesses. You can also provide feedback to the Council on its draft Council Plan and Budget 2020/21 that was released on 17 June.

Our neighbours across the ditch, have just dedicated $175 m to support the arts in NZ. What short & long-term plans does COPP have to better support the very prolific Arts in COPP? We have seen little action from the Art & Soul strategy over the last 12 months.

We are working with the Art and Soul Advisory Panel to develop long-term recovery strategies and programs for artists, cultural organisations, and creative industries and Council recently announced a $180k Arts Rescue Package including grants for individual and group activity, first peoples and access arts; 3D scanning for galleries; and arts acquisitions

  • We are developing new storytelling and capacity building projects for artists and communities, with a focus on digital and online
  • There is ongoing support in capacity building and support for creative industries
  • We are continuing to work with our 6 Cultural Development Fund key organisations – Australian Tapestry Workshop, Rawcus Theatre Company, Red Stitch Actors Theatre, The Torch, Phillip Adams BalletLab, Theatre Works
  • Continued work with Linden New Art and Gasworks Arts Park
  • Rent Relief for artists in Shakespeare Grove Studios
  • Trial of arts access program Fog Theatre to online delivery, supporting vulnerable communities

Other activities:

Why not re-direct some of the proposed $3.2m ear marked for the Palais forecourt towards the arts? E.g. help to relocate 106 Art space

Please refer to the response outlined to question above.

Hi there, thanks for today. City of Melbourne have several government grants for businesses, and seems City of Port Phillip is lacking in this area of support compared to most other Local Governments. What stimulus and grants are City of Port Phillip going to be offering companies to help drive new business, jobs and investment in the local community?

We have a range of grant programs including the recently announced Arts Rescue package that can be found here: At the moment a business specific grant program related to COVID-19 is not planned however if you would like that offered please let Council know through the draft budget process.

I have some regular customers whom have asked if they can book in again at my venue after the two hours period (should seating be available under the 20 rule)? They are prepared to purchase a second meal.

That decision needs to be up to the individual business. We encourage you to follow all recommended health guidelines.

My question to each of the panellists: How many businesses will close due to a change of behaviour and practices of people?

Unfortunately we can’t estimate that at this stage. Our current vacancy estimates in some of our Port Phillip activity centres at the end of May are:

10% (13) Acland Street

30% (33) Fitzroy Street

< 8-10% Carlisle Street, Chapel Street, Ripponlea and Elwood

10% (36) in Port Melbourne special rate area

12% (25) South Melbourne Placemaking area

< 5% (2) Middle Park

Small Business operators are lucky to make a minimum wage so what incentive would drive one to go into business?

There are lots of reasons that people decide to go into business and in times of adversity opportunities present to create new or diversify existing products and services.There are a range of initiatives and supports available to existing and new businesses, some of which were shared at the Business Forum.