A Guide to Cardinia, Cardinia Shire, Editorial, Small Business, The Big Issues|

Lockdown Madness

A brief background on AGTC and why this post.

A Guide to Cardinia first started in June of 2013, on Facebook, with the website following soon after. Given that it operates online, lockdown has not really affected it – although, it’s significantly affected what happens behind the scenes. There are, however, many others in a worse position. The last few years, AGTC has had a heavy emphasis on jobs (that’s changing, soon, in a good way), and for the last almost year I’ve also worked in the employment industry as a consultant, directly supporting people into work. In the last 8 years, I’ve been privileged to be able to assist in many ways, and been privy to much of the goings on across the shire, particularly when it comes to local business. A focus to date on employment opportunities across Cardinia, Baw Baw, Yarra Ranges, Casey and the Mornington Peninsula, has provided some insights not usually available to those who aren’t in the business of economic analysis. These have been highlighted over the last 18 months.

A brief background on how employment opportunities are an indicator of economic growth.

Gartner is a leading business insights research company, operating for more than 40 years. In a 2019 article, they had three major points to make about employment and the economy.

  • Part-time employment rises before a downturn
  • New job openings decline as the outlook weakens
  • Fewer people quit their jobs when uncertainty looms
Covid Lockdown by Kristen RK

Covid Lockdown by Kristen RK

From my activities and research, in 2020, advertised job vacancies across Cardinia dropped more sharply than in any of the surrounding areas, and the job vacancies that are being advertised have a heavy leaning toward casual. That emphasises what we all know – the economy locally is hurting – but more than that, it shows clearly how much more reliant Cardinia Shire is on local business than the surrounding areas. For an area that has been consistently one of the fastest growing regions in the country (Casey/Cardinia together is the single fastest growing area in Australia) that’s a major concern. Or it should be.

This, of course, is mostly irrelevant to the many hundreds of individual businesses who have had their doors forced shut. Their economic impact is much more direct. No income and continuing costs. Many closing their doors permanently (I don’t have figures on numbers at this point in time – am continuing to look – the census results will assist in this).

Additionally (and I’ve harped on about this before) the contribution of small business to the local economy is massive. From keeping money in the local economy through local business supporting local community to being overall better for the environment, the benefits of small business to Cardinia cannot be emphasised enough.

I have heard and seen first hand the hardship this is causing many, many business owners – and their families, and friends. Of stores going under and debts racked up. In 2020 there was significant financial support offered, and while some missed out (I was one of them), many – perhaps most – did not. Loan repayments were put on hold (even if the interest wasn’t), as was rent in many cases. This is not happening now with these lockdowns. A week’s closure now means maybe twice that much time of lost income – and the bills keep coming in. I have seen businesses go under and now former owners broken by grief. In a country where the leading cause of death for people between 15 and 44 is suicide this is unacceptable.

We all acknowledge the truth of “new normal” (Well, those of us without tinfoil hats, anyway), and we all (mostly) accept that life needs to change. Even with the excruciatingly slow vaccine rollout (and it’s not as scary as you think), we still – in typical Aussie fashion – get on with things, as we can.

But seriously, these latest sweeping lockdowns are ridiculous and pure laziness on behalf of the Victorian government, and the opposition.

The division of areas by LGA into metro and regional is patently ridiculous.

  • The City of Greater Geelong (~75km from the Melbourne CBD, 1,248 square kilometres in area and, in June 2018, population of 252,217) is currently regional. Geelong’s population density is ~200 people per square kilometre. It is one of the most populated cities in Victoria.
  • The Shire of Cardinia (~60km from the Melbourne CBD, 1,283 square kilometres in area, population of 107,120 in June 2018) is currently Metro. The vast majority of people in Cardinia live in Pakenham/Officer.
  • The contact tracing is working effectively and efficiently. Outbreaks are being found quickly and people are quarantining. Last year, we experienced individual postcode lockdowns. Why is this not the case now, especially given the improvement in the contact tracing? 
  • Every lockdown – whether 1 week or more – is harder worn and does more damage to lives and psyches and economies. It cannot go on. It must not go on.

Governing the state is a position of responsibility to ALL Victorians. Every one of us. Not just for the economics, but for the emotional and mental health of our society and of us. Continuing this lockdown madness across the state is unnecessary and a complete failure of that responsibility.

Update: The Age article published today on the growing mental health and well-being cost of ongoing lockdowns

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