A prominent Melbourne restaurateur has taken out a newspaper ad taking aim at the "shameful" coronavirus response by multiple levels of government.
The owner of reputable St Kilda restaurant Di Stasio Citta, Rinaldo Di Stasio, placed the ad in The Australian calling out authorities for abandoning the hospitality industry in its time of need.
In the full-page ad, which features a blunt open letter, Di Stasio said while the hospitality industry was a major employer and economic contributor, other than JobKeeper, it had not received any other material support.
In his withering rebuke of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews and Scott Morrison, Di Stasio said outside the wage subsidy payments, financial support remained "nearly non-existent".
"The neglect of temporary visa workers, skilled taxpaying members of our workforce is not only shameful, it will cripple hospitality and tourism moving forward," he wrote in the ad.
In his rallying cry to protect restaurants, cafes and bars brought to their knees as a result of the pandemic, Di Stasio went on to outline a five-point plan.
It included extending JobKeeper at the full rate of $1500 to Victorians beyond the September deadline, and for temporary visa holders, who can form the bulk of staff in many hospitality workplaces.
Currently, these workers are shut out from the JobKeeper and Jobseeker programmes.
"Our temporary visa holders have had the bone pointed at them," the restaurant's recent Instagram post read, reiterating that neglecting these "skilled workers" would severely impact the industry.
Di Stasio said politicians, those in government and those in opposition needed to adapt to a "new normal" for governance.
"Jobs for the boys, zero accountability and preferential treatment all need to stop. It is becoming increasingly obvious how political agendas have failed us," Di Stasio said.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, Di Stasio has been involved in discussions with government bodies about the future of the hospitality industry, and while he said conversations had resulted in "nothing", he would continue to "fight".
"I recognise the fact that we must focus our energy on combating Covid-19 but we must also begin to plan for the future, a future that has a 'new normal', a 'Covid normal'."
An industry veteran with more than 40 years' experience, Di Stasio said the letter was a "cry for help".
"I am worried beyond measure that the industry I love is facing total ruin. I invite our leaders and you to come to the table and make a positive contribution," he said.
"Do we want to see an industry dominated by soulless corporate-owned venues with no character or individuality?"
In addition to a return of JobKeeper to the full rate, Di Stasio said pressure should be applied to the banks, to ensure cash flowed back into the economy. He also called for the abolishment of the Federal Government's fringe benefits tax and the Victorian Government's payroll tax.