Best way to help Aussies get back on their feet
The biggest financial hit from this coronavirus pandemic has not been sinking superannuation balances or the gut-churning ride on our volatile sharemarket.
It's been the terrible cash disappearing act inflicted on businesses, and their millions of employees, shut down by social distancing rules and enforced closures.
Restaurant staff, bar staff, tourism operators and health and fitness workers have been among the hardest hit, but the financial pain spreads well beyond them.
When these workers are not getting paid their full wage - or any wage - they are not spending money at local businesses.
JobKeeper and the expanded Jobseeker payments have helped prop up some households but the economy needs much more to rebuild - especially with these schemes scheduled to end or wind back from September.
We can't expect governments to keep the handouts going forever, unless we want our children and their children to inherit a massive pile of national debt for decades.
So it's up to us.
Of course, people whose income has shrunk or jobs have disappeared can be excused, but the majority of workers are still getting paid.
Australia's unemployment rate for May, released last week, was 7.1 per cent, which tells us that much of the workforce is still employed. More than three million people are receiving JobKeeper and are potentially being paid less, but now's not the time for the entire working population to be too conservative with their spending.
Travel within states and between states is gradually opening up. If you're among the many people who've cancelled trips, concerts or other events in recent months, seriously consider spending at least some of it in your local community and regional areas.
It's not just tourist operators that will benefit from your cash. Visitors to our country towns buy groceries, petrol and other goods, and that money pays the wages of their local workers who then spend their money in their community too.
Trade and Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham says Aussies spend $65 billion a year on travelling overseas, while overseas travellers coming here spend $45 billion. A big difference.
As our international borders are likely to be closed until at least early next year, we collectively have the power to help save battered businesses and our economy.
A big financial benefit will come from locals exploring their own backyard.
I'm putting my money where my mouth is.
Next Friday I was supposed to be flying out for a dream holiday to Europe, exploring the Spanish coast and the canals of Venice. Instead, next month I'll be exploring SA's west coast and the backwaters of the River Murray.
Let's help businesses everywhere and our regional areas get back on their feet. And, in the process, enjoy some of the local riches that many Australians often ignore.
Originally published as Best way to help Aussies get back on their feet