27/04/2020 - 23:29 pm

The new COVID world

What we’ve seen over the past few weeks has been eye-opening to say the least. When news broke that we were facing a country in lockdown, LEEA was on the front foot ensuring relevant bodies were aware of our critical importance in keeping lifting operations safe. Having written to all Federal Members of Parliament and other decision making bodies, I was buoyed by the level of interest in the role our industry plays. Personal emails from several MPs, and Ministers, as well as numerous calls from advisors and department liaisons have put LEEA members in the spotlight.

Unfortunately, many firms in our industry are now looking at an uncertain future. Humans are creatures of habit and looking into the unknown is extremely difficult. What has been increasingly unsettling is the scale of what we’re potentially facing. The best economic minds have predicted a 6.7% contraction for Australia’s economy in 2020, with a bounce back of 6.1% in 2021, but the immediate impact of a 10-15% unemployment rate and social ramifications can’t be overlooked.

The shock that we expect comes largely to the retail economy and consumer goods, where discretionary spending on non-essentials is likely to be wound back. A likely upshot for our industry will come from the delivery of major infrastructure works being brought forward. Mining is also likely to receive a boost as other countries look to lift their economies back to growth using our exported resources and we are also likely to see a reinvigoration of the manufacturing and agricultural sectors.  Re-shoring of manufacturing operations, as a de-risking mechanism, is currently happening throughout the region. Some industry insiders believing that a manufacturing renaissance could be on the cards as heavy exposure to overseas supply has been laid bare during this pandemic. These things point to a strong opportunity pipeline for our industry.

As we’ve experienced, panic and uncertainty have been rife in these times with no clear understanding of how well we’ll fair through the recovery.  There is, however, good news coming out as you read this. For a number of days, new cases of COVID-19 in Australia have been extremely low. Just 10 new cases in the past 24hours (27th April) with New Zealand adding one solitary case. Some Australian States are relaxing social distancing measures, which is a relief to many, and New Zealand is coming out of lockdown. We’ve also bought our healthcare systems time to prepare for the possibility of second wave if there is an outbreak when distancing measures are relaxed. However, there is talk that we’ve almost squashed the virus and our lives might return to normality soon – minus overseas travel. The 98% of us who’ve adhered to social distancing and government advice should pat ourselves on the back.

We wish all our members a safe journey traversing these unprecedented times.

Justin can be reached at: justin.boehm@leeaint.com


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