Brigadier Rupert Hoskin AM withJoe O'Brien of ABC News Mornings:
"The Business Council of Australia, a peak body, is really there to harness the incredible generosity of a lot of the business community. And it's very clear that the problems on the ground in communities are partly caused by the fact that the economies of these areas have taken such a hit. The Mogo example is just one of many, we are there to really help revitalise businesses in a way that will get the communities up and running "So in Mogo, like in other places, we've just gone out on the ground, met people, heard their stories, listened carefully and worked out what is the best thing to get them moving and do so in a quick way. So in this case, Mogo, lots of businesses lost their premises. We were there the other day and there was a wonderful leather works business… hey were by the road trading under a donated gazebo on some trestle tables and on a stinking hot day. Really just out there doing what small businesses do best and getting out there and doing their job. "So we reached out to ATCO who had said they made demountable buildings and figured they would be useful. They were spot on. They immediately agreed to loan for the long term - up to two years - for the period necessary to rebuild in place, enough demountable buildings to create a pop-up mall. "So around about ten businesses in Mogo will go in there, we'll set it up on a site that has been very kindly donated by a local business on a loan basis and we will establish a place not only where they can trade but also where they can work and be alongside each other as a community. I can tell you I came from there this morning, we spent a long time with them there yesterday, that sense of getting a direction, some hope and doing it together is already incredibly palpable in the community." "So, at the end of next week our plan is to roll them out of Sydney on a convoy of trucks donated by Linfox - again who rallied immediately when we asked for their help and deliver them on-site on Saturday week the 15th February. No pressure. A lot of work to happen between now and then. But I have put it out there and as soon as we can after that we are going to use the equity trust that we have kindly raised money from donors and we will paying local businesses to do the other work. For example, setting up the internal carpentry, a big deck, an over roof - all those things that will make it really habitable. We are paying locals to work," Brigadier Rupert Hoskin AM told Joe O'Brien of ABC News Mornings. About BizRebuild
The BizRebuild initiative is working to quickly restore the jobs and small businesses that hold communities together to ensure bushfire affected towns do not fold and fade away.
BizRebuild, chaired by General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove (Retd), and members of his advisory committee, including Business Council of Australia Chief Executive Jennifer Westacott AO and President Tim Reed, have heard firsthand from around 50 mayors and local businesses from bushfire devastated communities.
Sir Peter told the community meeting at Parliament House: “We heard the theme of disaster and setback repeated again and again across local communities. We also heard a very dire impression of the economic damage.’’
“We won’t let your communities fold and fade away.
“We want to lead a business recovery and larger businesses are already working to help smaller ones. Whether it’s getting someone a job in the job in the short-term, whether it’s getting someone the tools they need to start working again, or providing a temporary shopfront for a gutted business.’’
“Our job is to get money and action on the ground as fast as possible. We are not going to be bogged down by bureaucracy. We are not going to ask you to fill out complicated forms. We are not going to ask you to jump through numerous hoops. I want to make this as easy as possible,’’ Sir Peter said.
The meeting heard from communities, many in drought, how the bushfires had resulted in 100 per cent of holiday bookings evaporating, businesses shutting, and jobs disappearing. Others said their agriculture and forestry industries had been decimated.
It was recognised that there was a desperate need to get cash and credit flowing back into their local economies, tourists returning, and larger companies buying more from regional businesses.
Ms Westacott said: “Members of the business community cannot begin to comprehend the trauma local communities are facing but we have undertaken to work alongside them, providing the on-the-ground assistance they need to recover and rebuild.”
“BizRebuild will launch “flying squads” giving case management support to small businesses who need advice and guidance as they prepare to rebuild for even stronger future.
Last week it matched Beach House Stairs in Batemans Bay with Bunnings which sourced and donated new tools from across the state.
Acting quickly and providing the tools meant a local business was able to stay afloat, nine tradesman stayed in work, earning wages and supporting their families and local communities.
BizRebuild aims to replicate these efforts across fire affected regions.
“We want to rekindle a sense of community in bushfire affected regions, give them a sense of hope and a road to recovery. Our response is designed to be practical and on-the-ground,’’ Ms Westacott said.
Mr Reed said: “This is about coordinating the resources that large companies have for impact. We want to help small businesses at the heart of these communities get back on track.’’
“Business Council of Australia members have given more than $33 million in donations, and millions more in in-kind support,’’ he said.
“We have already encouraged larger businesses to waive or defer debts wherever possible to alleviate the pressure, and to make sure cash is coming in by paying invoices before they are due and holding corporate events in devastated communities.