What the Qld hospitality industry needs to bounce back
QUEENSLAND'S top hospitality operators have increased pressure on the Federal Government to bring back the long lunch in a desperate attempt to boost jobs in the embattled sector.
Industry leaders have also called for JobKeeper payments to hospitality workers to continue beyond the expected September cut-off, or risk more operators closing.
About 441,000 hospitality workers have lost their jobs across the country, while up to 12,000 businesses are predicted to permanently close.
Calls to remove fringe benefits tax from meals at restaurants, pubs and cafes ¬- first revealed by The Sunday Mail earlier this month - would encourage businesses and sole traders, such as tradies and hairdressers, to start eating out again.
Brisbane restaurateur Simon Gloftis, who runs Hellenika at The Calile and SK Steak and Oyster, said the plan would give restaurants the boost they needed to get through the pandemic.
"I can't see any arguments against it that are rational," Mr Gloftis said.
"It's still moving money into the economy … and people are spending. GST is there so the more they (diners) spend, the government can pick it up on the GST."
John Gambaro of Brisbane's Gambaro Seafood Restaurant, Black Hide Steakhouse and Persone believes removing FBT is the best way to kickstart the industry.
"If you have half the restaurants not trading, so you're not getting the revenue from that, then it makes sense to entice people to come back to restaurants," Mr Gambaro said.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg would not confirm if the Government would introduce tax changes, but said the Morrison Government was "helping to keep businesses in business and Australians in jobs with $320 billion in economic support".
Restaurant and Catering Australia CEO Wes Lambert said the industry's best chance of survival was for the Government's Job Keeper payments to continue past the predicted September cut-off.
"When businesses are faced with paying all of their bills at 100 per cent in October, there will be more closures," he said.
"Our industry needs JobKeeper to continue. We're 47,456 businesses pre-COVID, we could be 30,000-35,000 post. It's very serious."
Mr Lambert said venues - whether they be a tiny coffee shop or fine dining restaurant - needed to add additional revenue streams, such as permanent takeaway and delivery options, as well as possible grocery lines and liquor sales if appropriate licences were in place.
Eateries would also need to make the most of technology, embracing apps for everything from delivery to bookings.
"The delivery apps exist because the consumers want them," he said.
"There's nearly six million Australians on delivery apps now, up from four million a year ago, so delivery is here to stay."
Another major issue that would need to be addressed as a result of COVID-19 was the reliance on casual staff, said Amanda Scott, owner of Brisbane cafe Farm House in Kedron.
"I think the casual thing has got to stop, except for high school students, because we're going to a world where sick people cannot go to work and if you're casual, you're going to miss out on your money," Mrs Scott said.
"So we're going to have to offer people permanent-part time or full-time. We know it's a little bit less per hour but it ends up being the same if you count holiday pay and sick leave."
Mr Lambert said the move away from casual staff could create greater certainty around employee and employer relations, which had been tested during coronavirus closures.
Originally published as What the Qld hospitality industry needs to bounce back