The Nationals Member for Lowan Emma Kealy is calling for the Victorian Government to do more to support businesses in managing the onerous task of enforcing COVID restrictions and to address COVID-related workforce shortages in regional areas.
Speaking in Parliament, Ms Kealy said she had been contacted by a number of businesses with deep concerns regarding the significant responsibility put on them to manage the government-imposed COVID rules with no government support.
“The strict compliance rules implemented by Labor are an additional burden and stress for our local businesses in terms of enforcement,” she said.
“Our regional businesses have been through enough and yet I continue to receive calls from business owners informing me that they have been bullied and harassed by enforcement officers despite their compliance with Victorian COVID rules.
“I am also informed of staff who are being threatened each and every day while checking vaccination status or refusing service for those people that are not vaccinated.
“Labor’s COVID rules are creating an unsafe workplace, and there is no support from the Victorian Government to undertake this policing of the community.
“The situation is being made even more difficult for businesses because of the staff shortages that have come as a result of businesses being required to terminate employment for unvaccinated staff members.
“I am aware of one situation where a business owner did what Labor directed them to do and terminated the employment of four staff as they were not vaccinated, however two of these staff are now taking the termination to Fair Work Australia for unfair dismissal.
“The manager is now facing considerable costs and spending a large amount of time defending the termination of these employees, even though these same employees would still be working for the business if the vaccination mandate was not in place.
“This is unacceptable. The Andrews Labor Government must stop the bullying tactics now and help our local businesses get back on their feet after COVID, instead of making the situation even more difficult for them.”