By far the most important announcement yesterday was not the tease about mandates at some time past the peak of Omicron. That’s classic public relations BS. Kick for touch, say something vaguely helpful with no real detail so you can fudge it another day.
The most important announcement was the wage subsidy extension for those suffering under the red light. The same red light the Prime Minister has been at pains to tell us means pretty much life at normal.
Katie and I were at dinner on Sunday at a place we go often. The co-owner who we had not met before, mainly because they have young kids and she is at home with them, but she was in. She hadn't worked the table for seven years, but they can't get staff. No one can get staff. Her husband, who normally does the front of house stuff, he's been in the kitchen now for weeks because they can't get staff there either. He's working seven days and at breaking point. I know this because she told us.
The kids are with the grandparents. She had come over to introduce herself because she knew we had been regulars and keen to support the place.
As she went to thank us for our support the tears started to well up. It was a sobering moment and a massive, in your face, reality check as to just how hard it is for so many in hospitality to make ends meet, find anyone to work for them, and see a future out the other side.
So back to Robertson and his money. $4000 per business, $400 per full time worker capped at 50 workers, or a max of $24,000. It's all based on a 40 percent drop in business.
By the time you add up all your 30 and 40 percent drops in business, it's difficult to work out where the drop started and stopped. That’s the cruelty of all this, the 40 percent might well be on top of the 30 percent originally. In other words, you have been bleeding for two years and counting.
Robertson told us, because he can't help himself, that the economy is going well. Yes, if you milk cows and grow kiwifruit, it is. If you own planes, hotels, flying foxes, restaurants, cafes, or bars, no it isn't.
So maybe hold the back slapping "how good am I” carry on for a more appropriate moment?
This should have been in at the start of the red light, of course. This should never have been an issue. This should have been automatic.
I don’t even know, now we have it, whether it's enough. It is better than nothing, but yet again they had to be dragged kicking and screaming to get here. Their understanding of business is abysmal, their kindness has vaporised, they look like they are out of ideas, and they need to be told what to do next.
Maybe they should go out to dinner more, and look a few owners in their eyes, behind the tears, and soak up the stark cruelty of what they’ve done. Less time in the Beehive Theatrette and more time in the real world, give that a go and see how good you feel about yourself.