The ACT's private sector has united to call on the Barr government to produce a long-term economic plan to steer the national capital through the coronavirus recovery.
The peak bodies for business, builders, property owners and hoteliers are urging Chief Minister Andrew Barr to use a major speech later this month to set out a clear plan to rebuild the territory economy in the coming years.
The four groups, which represent a combined 235,000 Canberrans, want the plan to focus on seven key themes: job creation, infrastructure spending, tax changes, population growth, planning and industrial relations reform, as well as provisions for direct financial subsidies and other support.
Mr Barr earlier this week foreshadowed a "very significant package of investment" would be announced in late August, which would build on the government-funded stimulus and support rolled out through the crisis.
The private sector push comes on the back of the release of new figures which showed more than 1 million Australians were unemployed and looking for work in July.
The ACT's jobless rate decreased to 4.6 per cent in July, the lowest in the nation and down from 5.1 per cent a month earlier.
But the territory's unemployment is still more than 1 per cent higher than it was at the same time last year, showing the ACT has been far from immune from the economic shock of the pandemic.
Canberra Business Chamber chief executive Graham Catt said the ACT's 30,000 businesses had experienced the most pain from the virus-induced downturn.
Adding to their stress, Mr Catt said, was a sense of uncertainty as to how the ACT government planned to manage the recovery.
"At the core of our request is the need for a business-friendly government which supports a private sector-led economic recovery for the ACT," Mr Catt said.
"We consistently hear from local businesses about the difficulty of running a small business in Canberra, which has been made more difficult for many by the COVID-19 recession," he said.
The hospitality sector has been among the hardest-hit by the pandemic, with venues forced to close and then reopen at reduced capacity due to coronavirus restrictions.
Australian Hotels Association ACT branch general manager Anthony Brierley said the government needed to produce a long-term recovery plan so operators could start bringing back stood-down workers and negotiate agreements with banks, financial providers and landlords.
The construction industry was allowed to continue running through the April and May shutdown, but the sector has been shedding jobs amid uncertainty about the pipeline of projects in the next two years.
About 1000 local construction workers have lost their jobs since March, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data.
While the ACT government has fast-tracked local projects amid the pandemic, and does have a $14 billion infrastructure agenda, Master Builders Association of the ACT chief executive Michael Hopkins said a detailed long-term capital works plan was "urgently needed".
ACT Property Council executive director Adina Cirson warned of a financial crisis if the government didn't act on calls for reform.
"The property and construction sector contributes around 60 per cent of territory taxes and charges," she said.
"Without a clear economic plan, which prioritises planning reform, tax relief and a plan for population growth, jobs will be lost and the territory's revenue source will continue to decline, leading to a long-term financial crisis for the next territory government."
The coalition of private sector lobby groups has written to Mr Barr to outline their requests.
The Chief Minister is set to deliver the economic statement on August 27, which will include an update on the ACT's budget bottom line.
Mr Barr will also use the platform, scheduled just weeks before Canberrans head to the polls, to detail the next wave of government support for the economy.
The government pushed out two packages worth a combined $350 million amid the first shutdown, and has steadily rolled out further support in the months since.
Earlier this week, Mr Barr said all Australian governments would have to be far more "interventionist" than they otherwise would be to help repair their economies in the aftermath of the crisis.