Four Corners: Sept 28

Monday’s Four Corners episode “The Job Ahead, reported by Stephen Long, looks at surviving Australia’s COVID-19 recession.

“How am I going to pay the bills? How am I going to feed my child?” Performer, Regional NSW

Australia is in the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression with decades of economic growth brought to a halt as the result of the coronavirus pandemic. More than six months on from the closure of our borders and the extensive restrictions placed on how we work and play, Four Corners investigates the financial fallout for everyday Australians and what the future may hold.

“Worst case scenario, we will lose our house, we will lose our shop.” Small business owner, VIC

From coast to coast the program hears from people across the country about how they are managing.

“Every week that goes on, I lose money.” Corporate event manufacturer, NSW

More than a third of the nation’s businesses are relying on the Federal Government’s JobKeeper payments to survive. Many are on Australia’s east coast where the glamorous international tourist meccas in Queensland and NSW have been doing it tough.

“Without JobKeeper we wouldn’t be surviving. Currently we’ve got ten people on JobKeeper including myself.” Regional NSW tourism operator

With JobKeeper payments being reduced from next week, and plans to shut it down in March 2021, many are concerned.

“It’s going to be a devastating impact and it’s going to create such social disruption that I think the governments aren’t quite comprehending.” Mayor, NSW

In WA, food producers are grappling with a different set of problems. There’s no shortage of demand for their produce, they simply don’t have the low-cost backpacker workforce to do the job.

“Absolutely a fairly dire situation. I’d say in terms of having the sufficient numbers.” Orchardist

While in designated Melbourne ‘hotspots’ some fear they simply cannot hang on long enough for their businesses to recover.

“I was thinking to take a loan to pay my expenses but last week I got an email. I didn’t get a loan because I already have two loans on my head, so I don’t know.” Beautician, VIC

In Sydney’s CBD, glittering office towers sit almost empty, built for a way of working that may never return. The domino effect on business after business has been profound.

“We would typically do two, maybe three events a day, across a couple of states and since mid-March we haven’t seen a single day’s work.” Corporate caterer

The program analyses why specific locations and industries were so vulnerable to the shutdown and explores what it will take for Australia to recover.

Monday 28th September at 8.30pm on ABC.

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