The Liberal Party’s Shadow Minister for Water Dr David Honey and Shadow Minister for Small Business Alyssa Hayden have both commended Water Minister Dave Kelly for finally succumbing to pressure and listening to the pleas of local businesses.
“Businesses across Western Australia will today be relieved that the Water Minister has finally listened to my pleas that he help business across our State by waiving unfair wastewater service charges that are being lumped on businesses during the Covid-19 crisis,” Dr Honey said.
“Many businesses have had to close their premises completely due to Government-imposed Coronavirus restrictions. Businesses such as restaurants, hotels, gymnasiums and many others have had to close their doors due to Government restrictions imposed to control the Coronavirus.
“Some businesses have shut down completely and vacated premises, leaving property owners with no rent income.
“However, in all these cases, where no income is being derived from a business or property due to Coronavirus impacts, Water Corporation has been continuing to charge the full Water Service, Sewerage Service and Drainage Service charges. The charges add up to thousands of dollars, especially for hospitality venues that provide parking and/or have a large number of toilets.
“The Minister should have acted when the Government first imposed the Coronavirus restrictions. Businesses have been asking for these changes for a couple of months and I asked the Minister to do this at the start of the month. It is disappointing that it has taken so long for the Minister to finally listen and waive these unfair charges.
“It is also very disappointing that the Minister has put an arbitrary limit on which businesses receive this help. The Minister has excluded any businesses who have three or fewer toilets. Businesses of this size are usually run by mum and dad investors who have been just as badly affected by
this crisis as everyone else. However, the Minister for whatever reason has decided that they are not worthy of this Government’s assistance.”
Mrs Hayden said: “While I’m pleased to see that common sense has prevailed, I remain concerned that assistance took so long and that so many are still missing out.
“The devil will be in the detail, just like the McGowan Labor Government’s tourism fund announcement, which only assisted about 7 per cent of the tourism industry. I am concerned that there is a possibility that many businesses will miss out, simply as a result of not meeting the job keeper requirements. This will create another gap for struggling small business to slip through.”
Dr Honey added: “This is just another example of the Water Corporation, through the Water Minister, lagging other States and Departments in providing critical assistance to businesses during this crisis.
“State Government revenue is well above budget estimates due to massive windfall royalties from iron ore and the Morrison Federal Government’s GST fix. They should be using some of this money now to make sensible decisions to help all struggling businesses survive this crisis instead of banking this windfall revenue to buy votes at the next State election.”