'Hurting badly': CEOs' urgent plea to Victorian Premier

Anastasia Santoreneos
·2-min read
Businessman writing an address on an envelope.
CEOs pen an open letter to the Vic Premier. Source: Getty

The chiefs and directors of Australia’s largest companies have written an open letter to the Victorian Premier, urging him to lift restrictions today.

The letter, signed by CEOs and managing directors at Wesfarmers, Coca-Cola, BHP, Commonwealth Bank, Orica, Newcrest Mining and Incitec Pivot, was sent to Premier Daniel Andrews late on Wednesday.

“The current situation is not sustainable,” the CEOs stated.

“Victorians are hurting badly, personally and economically. Medical experts have warned of the devastating effects the restrictions are having on health and mental wellbeing.”

The business leaders said it was “critical to Victoria’s economic future” to reopen the state’s economy now, rather than Andrews’ planned 1 November date.

“We urgently need to kickstart our economy, and as leaders of some of Victoria's biggest businesses we want to do our bit,” they stated.

“We urge you now, in light of the excellent recent progress, to permit the careful and staged return to the workplace of office workers and the small businesses that provide services to them.”

The CEOs added that Victoria’s climbing unemployment and underemployment rates will have long-term effects on the economy.

“Our state is facing social and economic challenges of an unprecedented scale, and which will take many years to resolve. All this raises serious questions about how we will attract future talent to Victoria.”

The letter was signed by Commonwealth Bank chief Matt Comyn, Coca-Cola Amatil managing director Alison Watkins, BHP CEO Mike Henry, Wesfarmers managing director Rob Scott, Newcrest Mining CEO Sandeep Biswas, Orica CEO Alberto Calderón and Incitec Pivot CEO Jeanne Johns.

The letter comes just days after the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia (COSBOA) penned its own open letter to Andrews, calling for a meeting with the Premier to discuss a plan to reopen businesses.

“We are deeply concerned that the continuation of the Melbourne Covid-19 lockdown beyond 19 October 2020 will create a cycle of poverty and unemployment in Victoria,” the letter stated.

“This impact will take many years to overcome and will mainly affect the most disadvantaged in the community, including entire families.

“Our plan will minimise economic damage. We seek a meeting with you to discuss our plan to get Victoria moving again in a Covid-safe way.”

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