COVID-19: Industry update #9

< Date: 07 April 2020

The latest information from your National Association 


To say the last few weeks have been disruptive for industry, is an understatement. Given the extent of the announcements recently and as we settle into the new normal, we thought this would be a good opportunity to take stock and provide a summary of Federal Government Initiatives to support your businesses that have been announced along with providing you an update on the initiatives we as an Association have been undertaking on your behalf.  

SME Commercial Leasing Principles During COVID-19 


Today, the National Cabinet agreed that states and territories would implement a mandatory Code of Conduct (the Code) and build on the draft codes submitted by landlord and tenant representative bodies in the commercial property sector. 

The purpose of the Code is to impose a set of good faith leasing principles for application to commercial tenancies (including retail, office and industrial) between owners/operators/other landlords and tenants, in circumstances where the tenant is a small-medium sized business (annual turnover of up to $50 million) and is an eligible business for the purpose of the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper programme. 

A copy of the Code of Conduct can be found here  

Federal Government Economic Response  


Over the last three weeks, the Australian Federal Government has released three significant economic packages.  A complete summary of each economic response, including timeline for implementation and value amount can be found here:  

Individual and Household Support 


Business Support  

In addition to the Federal support, there has been a range of economic packages announced by State governments including freeze of utilities, tax cuts and business support packages.  Contact your State Association for further details regarding these announcements.   

Simplified working from home deductions  


The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) has announced today special arrangements this year due to COVID-19 to make it easier for people to claim deductions for working from home. The new arrangement will allow people to claim a rate of 80 cents per hour for all their running expenses, rather than needing to calculate costs for specific running expenses. Multiple people living in the same house can claim this new rate. For example, a couple living together could each individually claim the 80 cents per hour rate. The requirement to have a dedicated work from home area has also been removed.   

ATO Employee Working from Home General Summary 

ATO Working from Home Detailed Overview 

Updated Safe Work Australia resources to support business

Safe Work Australia has released a range of resources to support your business including FAQs, guides and printable material for workplaces, including checklists, infographics, fact sheets for industry and posters on handwashing, hygiene and physical distancing. 

EMDG Grants Overview 

Last week, the Federal Government directed an additional $49.8 million into the Export Market Development Grants (EMDG) program in the 2019-20 financial year, allowing exporters and tourism businesses to get additional reimbursements for costs incurred in marketing their products and services around the world. 

Importantly, applications lodged in the 2020-21 financial year can claim expenses even if events have been cancelled due to circumstances beyond a business’s control. In addition, any business which has incurred eligible EMDG expenses for promotional activities in 2019-20 financial year will be able to seek reimbursement for 50 per cent of these expenses without the Export Performance Test applying.  

For those businesses not familiar with EMDGs, the scheme is an Australian Government financial assistance programme for small to medium aspiring and growing export-ready businesses, which includes tourism businesses. It encourages businesses to increase international marketing and promotion expenditure to achieve more sustainable international sales. For further information, visit https://www.austrade.gov.au/Australian/Export/Export-Grants

Caravan Park Digital Roundtable with Senator Duniam 

Last week, Caravan Industry Association of Australia hosted a small digital roundtable between key industry business operators and Senator Duniam, Assistant Minister for Regional Tourism.  The discussion was robust and provided the Minister with an in-depth overview of the significant and unique challenges that caravan park operators are currently facing.  A range of issues were raised, including:  

  • Online travel agencies refund policies; 
  • Lack of consistency between State Health Orders;  
  • Resilience and recovery marketing initiatives; and 
  • Confusion of dealing with residents and annual site holders.  

This roundtable was followed up by Association CEO, Stuart Lamont, having a private de-brief session with the Assistant Minister this afternoon. 

Further digital roundtables are currently being scheduled to provide appropriate ministers with operator insights in other sectors of our industry.  

Association Update 

Advocacy  

Each week we have a Zoom catch-up with our state association colleagues (as well as Fergus Brown from HAPNZ) to collaborate on key messaging, to share weekly advocacy wins, and to identify opportunities to work closer together.  This is an important conduit to have consistent messaging out to industry in what is a challenging time with so many announcements coming out of Federal and State Government Departments. 

Other specific advocacy activities undertaken by Caravan Industry Association of Australia in relation to COVID-19 include:  

  • Digital roundtable discussion with Dr Stephanie Fahey, CEO of Austrade regarding the current state of tourism and export markets;  
  • Participation in the Australian Chamber of Commerce industry forum which directly provides information to the Federal Government’s Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit;  
  • Ongoing discussions with the Health Department regarding mobile staging units and supporting industry; 
  • Collaborating with Austrade regarding specific recovery initiatives for industry and marketing concepts; and 
  • Maintaining dialogue with Federal Ministers and associated Departments concerning matters associated with the caravanning industry. 

In addition to above, Caravan Industry Association of Australia in collaboration with our member State Associations, have been activating media daily advocating the need to classify caravan parks as ‘essential businesses’ to support residents, workers and travellers with no fixed abode.  Media channels have included (but are not limited to):  

  • CCH Political Advisory, 
  • Mirage News,  
  • Northern Daily Leader,  
  • ABC North Coast,  
  • ABC Alice Springs,  
  • 5AA (Nova) radio Adelaide,  
  • ABC Adelaide,  
  • Queensland Country Life,  
  • ABC South East NSW, 
  • the Newcastle Herald,  
  • Canberra Times,  
  • Australasian Leisure Management,  
  • My Sunshine Coast 
  • AboutRegional,  
  • SBS, and 
  • 2GB Radio 

The above activations supported our member State Associations’ advocacy to State Governments Associations, which led to several positive amendments in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, providing clarity regarding caravan parks as essential businesses and opening up activity off the prohibited venue classifications.  

Research 
The provision of timely insights has been challenging due to the rapidly evolving situation.  Last week, we reached out to our research partners RMS, BDO and Newbook requesting increased data reporting to help feed insights quicker into the market.  All have agreed to provide increased reporting to the National Association during these times, with a new COVID-19 Industry Data Dashboard in development.  This platform will provide future weekly accommodation reporting, industry sentiment, key economic metrics and consumer sentiment to planning/booking/purchasing which will be important for businesses in their planning processes, while also allowing us to frame conversation with Government.  

Marketing  
Lastly, last week we soft launched the ‘Camp at Home Heroes’ initiative. Normally this time of year is when many Australian families would usually be packing up the camping gear and preparing to hit the road, with upwards of 300,000 Australians usually camping over the Easter Weekend. 

‘Camp at Home Heroes’ is a fun, educational, family based and socially responsible campaign that asks our community to camp at home this year, this ensuring people stay connected with the caravan and camping lifestyle and with their immediate families over the Easter break.  

It is important that the highly aspirational attitude towards caravanning and camping remains alive and well, and “keeping the spirit of camping” active over the Easter period, despite people unable to undertake their normal caravanning or camping activities over this holiday break, is an important marketing message that we need to continue to push into the marketplace.   

Reach out to us

We, in conjunction with your individual State Association, continue to advocate strongly on behalf of industry to ensure that our sector is best positioned to be part of the resilience and bounce back strategy once this crisis has passed, along with ensuring that Federal Government is aware of the issues facing individual business operators.   

Please do not hesitate to reach out to the National Association or to your State Association if you have any queries or would like to raise a specific issue that you require to be addressed with Government. 

Also, make sure to keep up to date on our industry COVID-19 resource page which is updated often:

 https://www.caravanindustry.com.au/coronavirus-covid-19-information