With the March 28 deadline for JobKeeper looming, and other COVID-19 economic supports coming to an end soon thereafter, one could be forgiven for thinking the pandemic was over.
But it isn't, and it won't be any time soon.
Yes, the vaccine will rollout in Tasmania from late February, but thinking that marks the end to all the economic suffering brought on by the virus would be wrong.
The after effects of COVID-19 may well be as debilitating as the virus itself was, regardless of a jab in the arm.
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JobKeeper has been a major support for Tasmanian businesses through 2020 and into 2021. It has helped keep workers in touch with their workplaces, and given many the opportunity to continue to engage with the job force.
Earlier in the week Bridestowe Lavender Estate owner Robert Ravens told The Examiner that losing an employee meant far more than just having to hire a new staff member.
He said farewelling a team member means farewelling the training they have undertaken and experience they have gained, but also saying goodbye to some "intellectual property" of the business.
The importance of workplace morale cannot be understated.
It leads to workers wanting to work, wanting to meaningfully contribute to the workplace, and a happier customer as a result.
Cutting off JobKeeper in March will undoubtedly result in Tasmanian tourism businesses having to say farewell to staff members.
But losing staff members does not just set back the workplace itself, it threatens to hamper the plight pushed so hard in recent memory to establish the state as a destination.
"Intellectual property" of businesses has been built up as part of this direction, and cutting off JobKeeper threatens to eradicate the nous built up over that time by diverting it to an economy that has not been hit so hard.
The current subsidy of $1000 would be shut off entirely, and businesses that are operating at a significantly diminished capacity due to their reliance on tourism will have to find that money where there is none.
Tourism Tasmanian chief executive John Fitzgerald told The Examiner on Tuesday that intrastate tourism had carried the torch in 2020 and could continue to do so in 2021, with support from the mainland.
But he said there was no way the international void - left by the likelihood of no international travel to Australia in 2021 - would be filled.
Many directly tourism related businesses around the North of the state have told The Examiner recently that 2020 was good for business, but were worried that the sustenance local tourism provided over winter was likely an aberration, and winter 2021 was genuinely scary.
Every business that relied on bookings - hotels and tour groups, for example - were the most fearful. They said they relied on forward bookings for certainty, but they were not forthcoming.
Multiple of these types of businesses told The Examiner that they began to build up these forward bookings around Christmas time and into the new year, but issues relating to COVID-19 in Victoria, NSW and QLD quickly nipped that certainty in the bud.
As for JobSeekers, the story is similarly bleak.
While the fight remains over a JobKeeper extension to affected businesses or regions, the battle is as important for individuals who have lost a job altogether.
The state government continues to roll out rhetoric that jobs are returning in Tasmania, and of course they are. They had nowhere else to go. They were the lowest of low.
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that in May, when the pandemic first obliterated livelihoods in Tasmania, 19,100 jobs were lost.
Still, eight months later, 5400 of those jobs have not returned.
While business stomachs are continue to churn over the prospect of severely impacted travel long into the future, less thought has gone out to those on JobSeeker, AusStudy and other related payments.
Arguably, the loss of the subsidy for those on JobSeeker and AusStudy will hit just as hard.
In terms of AusStudy, if you are living out of home you need to work.
The rising cost of rent around the state confirms it, but it has been the case for years.
Without the supplement the AusStudy is around $500 each fortnight. Factoring in rent assistance it might stretch to around $700.
A two-bedroom house in Launceston costs on average $350 a week according to the Real Estate Institute of Tasmania.
To study you need internet, and most likely a phone. You need to eat and drink, use electricity and have a shower. It adds up.
Without a diminished job market comes a reduced ability to earn money on top of whatever amount is being received through AusStudy.
The $150 coronavirus stimulus could mean anything from having to borrow money from family to pay rent, to not being able to pay rent at all and being evicted into the already struggling social housing environment in Tasmania.
Then you can forget about studying.
So then comes JobSeeker. The story is much the same.
For those that have not had to look for a job any time recently, it is tough.
Most everything is online and many places cannot or will not allow for a hand printed resume to be dropped to "the manager". That is no longer realistic.
It is either a call, or an email, or a virtual application through an employment website that one can never be sure if it is even read.
Jobs are obviously out there. In October last year there were actually more jobs advertised in Tasmania on the website seek.com.au than there were in October 2019 (although how many of these would have been those that were lost in May).
Getting them is another story, and one that often involves weeks of waiting around.
The inevitable job losses that will happen if JobKeeper and other financial stimuli are cut off should be deeply concerning, and their effect could fell Tasmanian growth at its knees.
They threaten to have a profound impact across areas that Tasmanians hold dear, and have worked hard to change: a tourism industry that has become in many ways the envy of the nation with a unique offering full of the workers that contributed to making it that way, and a university that wants to keep Tasmanians in Tasmania and put locals in local jobs.
- Brinley Duggan is a journalist at The Examiner
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