Victoria accounts for around 90 per cent of all the caravans, RVs and camper trailers manufactured in Australia, generating an estimated $2.1 billion for the state economy. More than 50 of those manufacturing businesses are located within the Stage 4 lockdown zone in metropolitan Melbourne, meaning that when restrictions came into effect on 6 August, around 4,000 people in the industry were immediately out of work.
When the restrictions were announced, Caravan Industry Victoria (CIV) Chief Executive Rob Lucas and the Association’s lobbyists immediately sought clarification on whether caravan manufacturing businesses could be exempted from the shutdown period.
On Friday, 7 August, after another round of meetings and discussions, the CIV received clarification from the Victorian Government that, unfortunately, their application for exemption had been denied.
When asked why the Association needed clarification, Lucas said: “Clarification as to whether members could open and trade was crucial to ensure members were operating under the permitted industry directions of the Victorian Government.
“The Association felt there were a number of grey areas when Premier Daniel Andrews initially announced the Permitted industry List on Monday 3 August. With further amendments made last week, we needed to be sure they could or could not operate.
“While we are working to keep everyone safe and COVID free, we all need to be mindful of the long-term effects of the shutdown on members’ livelihoods which are at stake, the Association is very conscious of this and are offering significant support for all members.”
While all impacted businesses will shut their manufacturing operations, some will continue to maintain their service and spare parts departments, at reduced staffing levels and under COVID-safe protocols. The shutdown is expected to also impact parts and components suppliers for the industry.
Caravan and RV dealerships in the Melbourne metro area are not permitted to conduct on-site sales operations during the six-week lockdown, but phone and online sales can still occur. Like the manufacturers, caravan dealerships can conduct servicing and repairs subject to COVID-safe protocols, but with 5km travel limits in place, service departments are expected to be only lightly patronized.
“We will bounce back as an industry,” Lucas added. “We are very resilient we just want to make sure customers of our members are patient through this difficult period.”