‘Cluster-thud’: Businesses demand compensation after ‘serious failings’ exposed

South Australian businesses have launched an immediate call for compensation and for restrictions to be lifted sooner, following the bombshell revelation the state was forced into an unnecessary shut-down based on a “lie”.

Nov 20, 2020, updated Nov 23, 2020
An almost empty Rundle Mall during lockdown. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

An almost empty Rundle Mall during lockdown. Photo: Tony Lewis/InDaily

Business SA CEO Martin Haese released a scathing statement this afternoon, saying South Australia’s economy had been “threatened” and “serious failings” in the state’s COVID-19 management plan had been exposed, after the state was plunged into a six-day shutdown because of concerns about the spread of the Parafield coronavirus cluster.

But authorities revealed today the trigger for the lockdown was based on a “lie” by a medi-hotel kitchen worker – who withheld from SA Health contact tracers the fact he worked a second job at the Woodville pizza bar at the centre of the cluster concerns.

Haese said “a single lie cannot bring a state’s economy to its knees” and that business owners had been let down.

“To say this week has been a roller coaster ride for South Australian business owners would be a gross understatement,” he said.

“This is a cluster thud.

“A three-day shutdown of the entire state will cost businesses many millions of dollars.

“Businesses have worn the cost of this lockdown, and Business SA is calling on the Government to bring forward pre-Parafield Gardens cluster restrictions as soon as possible.”

Business SA is calling for:

  • Regional businesses outside of the metropolitan area to open immediately to restrictions in place before the Parafield Gardens cluster, including the one person per two square metre rule.
  • The metro area to move to the Stage One Parafield Gardens cluster restrictions at midnight tonight, not on Saturday.
  • The Stage One Parafield Gardens cluster restrictions to end next Wednesday November 25 or sooner if it is safe to do so.
  • A compensation package for businesses who have suffered “measurable financial loss” during the shutdown, such as food wastage.
  • A city rescue package.

Haese said Guarantee Service Level Payments existed for extended power outages and could be used as a basis for compensation for businesses who have suffered “measurable financial loss” due to the forced shutdown.

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“Business SA’s message to the government is clear – let’s get back to business without delay,” Haese said.

Property Council of Australia SA executive director Daniel Gannon said today’s developments would “obviously give rise to debate about whether the lockdown announced on Wednesday was an overreaction given its economic and social impact”.

“At the time, we said it was tough but necessary,” he said.

“While the lockdown has caused disruption to our business and personal lives, authorities were acting on what they considered to be the best information available to them.”

Gannon said it was “the profound recklessness of one individual who has caused this upheaval, while the State Government was determined to prevent another Victorian-style outbreak”.

“It just goes to reinforce our collective responsibility in doing the right thing as we continue to fight this global pandemic,” he said.

“Obviously, we look forward to reopening the economy and construction sites in particular as we continue to fight this ongoing COVID battle.”

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