On 19 March 2020, BCCM CEO Melina Morrison attended the second meeting of the Industry Roundtable on Emerging Supply Chain Impacts of COVID-19. 

The Roundtable was hosted by The Hon Karen Andrews MP, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. 

BCCM highlighted the ways in which co-operatives and mutuals are working to overcome supply chain issues and other major impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. A recent survey of BCCM members found that 45.5% of member businesses have been “significantly affected” by the pandemic and a further 22.5% “moderately affected”. The major issues cited have been cash flow, supply chain, labour and office/travel issues. 

Main supply chain issues

  1. Some lessening of supply chain issues as China comes back online, but challenges remain for sourcing specific products and materials 
  2. Access to export markets is disrupted. Alternative domestic markets are slowing and may shutdown altogether in next two weeks. Freight transport availability and costs for delivery outside Australia is a concern as coronavirus becomes more prevalent here.
  3. Casual and seasonal labour supply is imperilled. Preparing for the growing seasons for major Australian agricultural sectors and keeping regional labour supply for businesses with branch networks including credit unions is critical.
  4. Small business sustainability remains urgent. Cash flow and financial continuity for small and medium enterprises is critical.

What is industry doing?

  • Extending credit and relaxing terms to support affected members and bringing forward rebates to help with immediate cash flow.
  • Stockpiling essential supplies like packaging and fertilizer to ensure business continuity.
  • Mutual banks and credit unions are helping four million Australian members deal with financial sustainability.

What can Government do?

  1. Targeted government support to domestically owned manufacturers, wholesalers and manufacturers to scale operations to provide essential goods and services to the Australian community.
  2. Assist exporters to negotiate charter flights to export markets where regular flights have been lost.
  3. Deem members’ businesses including cleaning product supplies, health foods and auto parts and repair as essential services in the case of a general business shut down.
  4. Extend working visas by 12 months. Expedite Newstart payments to casual employees in affected supply chains and in regional areas to help re-employment at same workplace when production picks up
  5. Government should also look at is the size of the bank deposit guarantee to avoid a flight to ‘perceived safety’ to the major banks.

BCCM will continue working with government at all levels to advocate for co-operative and mutual enterprises as they work hard to overcome the challenges of this pandemic. 

If you think your industry sector should be deemed an essential service, it is vital that you write to the government as soon as possible. Please contact the BCCM for advice on this. 

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