A leading businessman has said elderly Australians at higher risk of coronavirus should bear the brunt of lockdowns while allowing younger people to get back to work and salvage a tanking economy.
Telstra, Brambles and Toll Holdings chairman John Mullen, made the comments a day after Victoria recorded its highest-ever daily infection total of 725 cases.
Mr Mullen, who at 65 is moving toward the high-risk category COVID-19, said he would have no problem accepting restrictions on his activities so long as younger people – who are far less likely to die from the virus – can get back to working and spending.
‘My generation are often in a position where we are more comfortable financially. If we have to take a back seat to let the younger people drive the economy for a time, then that’s a small price to pay,’ he told The Australian.
‘Older people making a few concessions, we are in a better position to do that than younger people who are starting their careers.’
Of the 247 fatalities recorded in Australia in the past six months, 220 have been people aged 70 or over.
The second wave of the virus in Melbourne had brought about Stage 4 restrictions on trading and public movement.
At the start of the Stage 3 lockdown in metropolitan Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire in July, the treasury department estimated it would cost the Victorian economy $3.3billion in the September quarter.
Now that has been stepped up to Stage 4 and restrictions were rolled out statewide, federal treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the hit to the nation’s economy was going to be far more significant.
‘The Victorian economy makes up around a quarter of the national economy, and this will obviously impact upon consumer and business confidence more broadly,’ Treasurer Frydenbergy told the Sunrise program.
It is now estimated the economic impact of business closures in Victoria over the next six weeks will be $7.5-9billion dollars and result in 250,000 workers being laid off.
‘Most of the big ones (businesses) will survive. A lot of the little ones won’t have the stamina to do it all again. Just having got their hopes up, rehired staff and restocked inventory, now to go back down into a more severe lockdown – if it lasts for any duration, it is going to be very devastating,’ Mr Mullen said.
He warned that although the coronavirus is taking a toll on the health of Australians, with over 19,000 cases and 247 deaths, the economic toll will also cost many lives through a sharp rise in domestic violence, suicides and depression.