Australia

Push to reopen Bunnings, Kmart in Victoria

Bunnings, Kmart and Big W should be allowed to reopen in parts of Victoria where there are low numbers of COVID-19 cases, says Business Council of Australia boss Jennifer Westacott.Ms Westacott has revealed she is “really worried” about the effect of continued restrictions across Melbourne, ahead of a state government roadmap being released on Sunday.Speaking…

Bunnings, Kmart and Big W should be allowed to reopen in parts of Victoria where there are low numbers of COVID-19 cases, says Business Council of Australia boss Jennifer Westacott.

Ms Westacott has revealed she is “really worried” about the effect of continued restrictions across Melbourne, ahead of a state government roadmap being released on Sunday.

Speaking on the ABC’s Insiders program, Ms Westacott said businesses should be given the green light to reopen if they have a COVID-safe plan and are in an area with no community transmission.

“Bunnings, Target, Kmart, Big W, Officeworks, they see about ten million customers a year, no customer transmissions,” she said. “Why can’t these things start to open?

“No-one wants a third wave here but I think we have to find a practical, achievable, sustainable plan forward.”

Ms Westacott sits on the board of Wesfarmers, which owns Bunnings, Kmart, Officeworks and Target.

She slammed the lack of consultation the Andrews government has had with businesses, compared to NSW, which she said was sitting down every week to make improvements.

Ms Westacott also took a swipe at state borders, calling them “meaningless” and “pointless” and arguing that closing them is a “job killer”.

The Business Council of Australia chief has put companies receiving JobKeeper on notice, saying they should not be paying out bonuses to their executives.

It comes after Labor MP Andrew Leigh last month in parliament hit out at businesses including Accent Group, IDP Education, Star Casino and SeaLink for giving their CEOs bonuses after pocketing millions in the $1500 fortnightly wage subsidy.

Ms Westacott urged companies paying dividends to shareholders while on JobKeeper to “exercise very careful judgment”.

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