Chief Executive Update 18 December

18 December 2020

There is no simple way to describe the year that was 2020. From drought, to bushfires, to the COVID-19 pandemic, we experienced loss and hurt while also ending with a sense of hope.

Paul Guerra

Turbulence, resilience, cooperation and collaboration triumphed over the anger, desperation and disappointment that we all felt at different times. We made the most of it, but I don’t want a year like that again anytime soon - I’m certain I’m not alone in this!

As we face the final days of the year, our focus should be to stop and smell the roses and simply enjoy the things we’ve missed throughout the year - beginning with seeing family and friends again and then the return of crowds and events across our great state. It’s fantastic to hear the MCG will be buzzing on Boxing Day for the test match between Australia and India. The Sidney Myer Music Bowl has a list of gigs announced, Flemington is welcoming back punters and our fabulous arts and cultural institutions have reopened.

It’s also been wonderful seeing our hospitality venues come back to life, and I know that our world class hotels are welcoming people back now, too. However, there is still more work to do and we are advocating to the State Government to increase patron limits at major events to 50 per cent capacity to continue to breathe life back into our city.

The latest ANZ-Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence Survey released this week showed yet another upbeat result with consumer confidence - the highest it’s been since Melbourne Cup Week in 2019. This, combined with Australian Bureau of Statistics data released yesterday showing the unemployment rate fell to 6.8 per cent in November, bodes well for the upcoming holiday season. But we must capitalise on this confidence to give our economy a much-needed boost.

Then, we can face 2021 with the energy and vision and determination we need to start the fight back. The COVID-19 vaccine is on its way and we are virus free aside from returning travellers, so we can be confident it won’t be coronavirus that stops us if we do the right thing in keeping it at bay.

For many of us, our working lives will be different from here on in based on what we experienced this year, with some days working from home likely to be a permanent feature. There are consequences from what we have experienced, some positive and some not so. Sadly, some of us will have businesses that just can’t go on and some of us will use the opportunity to create something we have always wanted to. We can write our own script for 2021.

We have learned so much through 2020, but one of the best things I observed was a spirit of collaboration. I hope that remains with us. We relied on each other, we sought help when we needed it, we were okay with admitting that it was difficult, and we all pulled together during lockdown and followed the directions - sometimes reluctantly, but ultimately with good effect.

As a valued member of the Victorian Chamber, your input this year has never been so important. We have sought your feedback more than ever before, and it has helped shape our response to governments. We have done our best to represent the collective view and I have no doubt the VCCI voice was definitely one which carried credibility. The State and Federal Governments sought our input, as did the State and Federal Oppositions. We were an important voice because we carried the insight of businesses across all sectors throughout Victoria.

And we take that theme into 2021. Right from the start we want the year to focus on how Victoria can be a global leader in several sectors within a decade and build from there. The Victoria Summit 2021 will be an opportunity for us all to be deliberate in our recovery. We know the impost that has been inflicted on our economy by the virus, and we must be strident in our plans for recovery. This is our chance to bring the bright minds and the leaders together to ensure Victoria can become the best place in Australia to operate a business. I am excited about the possibilities and I hope you will join me in sharing your ideas to map a strong path for our future.

Finally, I want to thank my team at VCCI. We have an incredible team and we do our best to serve you each day. From our President Karyn Sobels, Deputy President Adrian Kloeden, Board, Executive Council, and staff, I am very proud and thankful for the way everyone at the Victorian Chamber pulled together in 2020. It started with our response to drought and the bushfires and continued right through the COVID-19 pandemic. Rest assured, we will be there for you again next year.

Have a wonderful Christmas for those who celebrate the occasion, and for everyone please enjoy a break. Stay safe, rest up, because 2021 is going to be a big one.

Thank you for your membership and your support. I look forward to meeting more of you in 2021.

Take care.


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