Letter to Member; COVID-19. Light At The End Of The Tunnel, Council Plans. (7 May 2020)

May 7, 2020

Dear Member / Friend,

For business and the community there is more light at the end of the tunnel. Testing has been carried out in Armidale for the last week and has continued this week. If that discloses no new cases, then we can all feel more confident about a return to business. The PM is also enthusiastic about relaxing some of the rules. Premier Berejiklyan has also stated today that the Government does not object to small businesses such as retail shops opening, provided they stay within the rules.  Looking around town on Saturday and through this week there were more people out and about than at the same time last week, and more shops opening – fantastic to see. Again, please go shopping and support these businesses as they open. By doing so, as you will appreciate, you support the Armidale economy.

At the same time lets also maintain the physical distancing requirements so we can continue on the path out.


Council has been meeting with various business representatives (including myself) to determine a strategy for the recovery from the economic effects of COVID-19. Projects have been listed, including the new runway, water infrastructure, revitalisation of the CBD, stages 2 and 3 of the Airport Business Park, and developing projects in collaboration with UNE. There will be funds from the  State and Federal governments to assist with the cost of these projects. The State Government has announced the $395 million package, as I have mentioned before, to support local councils

These major project areas will be developed through working groups. Council where it can, should act quickly with these projects and keep its mind open to other projects.  A project I am keen to see underway is the improvement of Armidale’s gardens as well as the north and south entrance to Armidale. It is a project requiring coordination and one which assists Armidale being a place of pride and a better tourist destination. The path to recovery will require determined, nimble activity wherever possible. We all need to support businesses as they emerge from hibernation as well as to encourage tourism and general business development at the earliest opportunity. Keeping unemployment down is also a major priority. This is not easy but, let’s get on with it and turn what has been a very difficult time into an opportunity, within social distancing rules

I read in the Armidale Express that six councillors have requested an Extraordinary Meeting of Council to hear their Notice of Motion to terminate Susan Law’s employment contract as CEO. Terminating Ms Law’s position now, and finding an interim and then permanent replacement for her is likely to seriously disrupt the operation of Council and does not help Armidale’s recovery from COVID-19.

I urge all Councillors to consider how issues concerning the CEO have got to this position, reflect on their own actions, make changes to councillor interaction and work out how to work together now. For many years Council has been the subject of criticism. Now is an opportunity to show how in this crisis Councillors can work together for the benefit of the community that elected them.

There are a number of dates to keep in mind and actions that need to be taken on an ongoing basis.

  • For example by the 7th of each month you need to make a monthly business declaration to reconfirm your  eligibility by providing information as to your turnover.
  • By 8 May 2020 you must have paid your eligible employees $1500 before tax for each Jobkeeper fortnight in April to claim JobKeeper payments for April
  • 31 May 2020 is the final date by which you can enrol for JobKeeper and identify and maintain your eligible employees.

The process is not straightforward and what is said above is a summary. You should check the requriements with your accountant or financial advisor to ensure that you are taking JobKeeper steps at the right time and that the paperwork is correct.

Reference guides can be found at the ATO:

and The Treasury:
https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus which has various Factsheets

Business Australia is offering a webinar on JobKeeper—an update, on Thursday 7 May at 2pm.
Here is the link:

Mandy Walker, a business coach, is still available for telephone consults if you would like to confidentially discuss your business and how to manage emerging from COVID-19.

Best wishes and stay distant.


Anthony Fox

Armidale Business Chamber
0402 838 077