The Opposition has urged the Labor Government to use the upcoming State Budget to support local businesses that have been impacted by the economic impact of lockdowns caused by COVID-19 outbreaks.
Opposition Leader Mia Davies said the fact not all businesses were eligible for lockdown grants was concerning at a time when local companies should be offered as much support as possible.
“We have heard stories of some tourism operators losing more than $60,000 worth of bookings just from one lockdown alone,” Ms Davies said.
“That does not include the huge losses incurred from the other two lockdowns experienced earlier this year.
“Providing grants of $3000 is a drop in the ocean when faced with such extreme financial losses, and to hear some businesses are not even eligible is extremely disappointing.
“The Premier was happy to reach into the State’s coffers last year and provide a $1 billion COVID-19 relief package, but this year the Treasurer has failed to provide the same surety around financial assistance.”
Ms Davies said the State’s Treasury was overflowing with royalty dollars and it wasn’t a time for Government to be miserly in their support for hard working business owners who employ thousands of people and generate significant income for the State.
“We knew COVID-19 was not going to just disappear after a year so the Labor Government should have put some planning in place to better enable financial recovery from snap lockdowns.
“The State Budget must reflect the fact that lockdowns will likely be a part of the State’s COVID response until vaccination rates are improved and provide businesses with certainty.”
Shadow Small Business Minister and Shadow Treasurer Dr Steve Thomas agreed no Government in the State’s history have had a greater opportunity to support small businesses impacted by the lockdowns.
“The McGowan Government received $4 billion over budget in iron ore royalty income up to the end of 2019-20 and is expecting another $5 billion surplus from 2020-21 to be revealed in the upcoming State budget,” Dr Thomas said.
“The iron ore royalty cash is still raining down with the price over US$200 a tonne and expected to stay high for the rest of the year, so Mr McGowan will be rolling like Scrooge McDuck in even more money after this year.
“The inequity in determining eligibility for lockdown grants to small business, and the random classification of who is and who isn’t an eligible small business is symptomatic of a Government and a Minister with a serious disconnect to the harsh economic reality of small business survival in Western Australia.
“This demonstrates the Government’s inability to appreciate the severity of lockdowns on the sustainability of small businesses.
“Giving some businesses hope, only for them to discover partway through the grant application that they are not eligible is cruel in a time when the Government needs to and has the fiscal capacity to be kind.
“We need a standard set of rules for compensation for these lockdowns, not the haphazard process the Labor Government appears happy to put business through.”