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Could Albo beat ScoMo at the next election?

Peter Switzer
9 April 2021

A mate of mine has a great travel business catering to businesses and high net worth travellers, but the Coronavirus changed all that. And because he had a great business with great cash flow and because he and his wife lived the life of Riley, not ever thinking some bats and snakes in China would kill their business for over a year, he’s now on social welfare!

So imagine how he might feel today when he reads and thinks about our dodgy vaccine problem and a Deloitte survey that could affect him and the entire tourism sector.

The Australian’s Lisa Allen wrote a story about this Deloitte survey telling us that we will find “fierce competition” because one really important curve ball was ignored that could hit us for an economic six. And my mate Mike is right in the way of this bad news ball.

Lisa Allen wrote: “Australia will face fierce competition for the holiday dollar when international restrictions are lifted…” And I could have written that too after reading the Deloitte survey. But now with headlines today such as “Blood clots spark overhaul of AstraZeneca rollout”, someone like me is thinking about the economic fallout of a less acceptable vaccine and the slow rollout of the vaccination process here. And so is Mike, his wife and son, who all work in the business.

To understand how bad our vaccination process is right now, compare us to the Yanks. Here’s the ABC’s website on the topic: “Just before Easter, the United States passed another milestone as it tried to vaccinate the majority of its nearly 330 million people. In just 48 hours, eight million COVID-19 vaccine shots were delivered.”

Of course, the Yanks had a bigger, scarier threat with its hopeless battle against the Coronavirus compared to Australia. That’s why the new US President Joe Biden secured 200 million extra doses of vaccine a couple of weeks into office

In case you’re wondering, it was 100 million Pfizer and 100 million Moderna doses, which meant with other supplies already bought he had enough to jab all Americans!

Compared to the US, our rollout programme looks laid back, but many of us have thought, well, we’ll get there by October. And let’s face it, international travel won’t be back properly until 2022. Also, the smashing of the virus by our governments means that we’re happy hanging out here until the world travel scene gets the all clear.

But what if our poor vaccination programme puts us on the “be careful about going to Australia” watchlist?

Deloitte says normal international tourism won’t be here until 2022 or maybe 2023. And if our vaccination programme isn’t well-regarded, overseas travellers will think twice about coming here for a number of reasons.

First, a totally vaccinated country is going to be more relaxed about new OS arrivals coming here for holidays and business.

Second, fully-vaccinated countries will be more attractive compared to those with poor vaccination rates.

Third, other countries chasing the tourist dollar will use negative advertising against us. I could easily see our Kiwi cousins making a point about this. Afterall, it is business!

Fourth, if we aren’t vaccinated, we’re not going to be ringing Mike to book a holiday any time soon, which will keep him, his family and his staff on welfare!

Imagine how our travel and hospitality industries, which have been the big sufferers from this pandemic, will be feeling right now as they contemplate a poor vaccination story for Australia and Australians. These businesses don’t need more obstacles to them getting their businesses back to normal.

But a poor vaccination programme won’t just hurt the tourism sector. Here are the possible economic negatives that could detract from the Morrison Government’s great post-Coronavirus economic recovery story so far:

  • In the 10 years to 2019, the tourist spend went from $86 million to $152 billion, which was 6% and this was miles faster than the overall economy that has averaged 2.8% long term.
  • Jobs growth will be slower with less tourism.
  • Companies like Crown and Star have seen their share prices rise on the idea that normal business conditions aren’t far away, but a poor vaccination programme could change all that.
  • Businesses, which plan to invest because 2022 will be more like normal, might hold back, which will hurt other businesses and the jobs they create.
  • The Budget Deficit is starting to fall because we are growing faster than expected, but if our vaccination programme lets us down, then 2022 growth will be slower, which means less taxes to government and more government spending, which is bad news for the Budget.

Right now, the PM and the Government are losing popularity because of the handling of sexual harassment in Parliament and in the country generally, and it’s taking the gloss off the great response to the economic challenges of COVID-19. This vaccination ‘mess’ needs to be fixed up ASAP or ScoMo might have difficulties beating Albo at the next election. And I never thought I’d have to write that but it is what it is.

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