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WA Government COVID response

COVID-19: the WA Government’s $1 billion response

The WA Government has announced a $1 billion economic and health relief package to support small and medium-sized businesses, households and community groups, and to boost the response by health and frontline services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It takes the total value of the WA Government’s COVID-19 assistance to $1.6 billion, including a recently-announced $25 million rent relief package for businesses operating in government-owned premises and a $159 million Lotterywest funding package available to community organisations and local government authorities.

The announcement came with confirmation that the State Budget, usually delivered in May, will be delayed until October 8.

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The latest package of assistance comes in two parts, with $502 million allocated to assist households, small and medium-sized businesses and community services, and $500 million to bolster WA’s health services and frontline delivery.

Household assistance

  • $115.8 million Energy Assistance Package – anyone who has become unemployed because of COVID-19 and is eligible for a concession card will receive a payment boost of $305 credited against their electricity bill (from May 11, 2020) and up to a further $305 credited over the course of the next year.
  • Synergy and Horizon – no household will have its  power or water switched off if they are experiencing financial hardship and interest will be charged on deferred bill payments.
  • Other state government taxes – households either directly or indirectly impacted by COVID-19 may also apply for interest-free payment arrangements and for late payment penalties to be waived for transfer duty, landholder duty, vehicle licence duty or land tax.
  • Keystart customers will be able to defer mortgage payments for up to six months.

Small and medium-sized business

  • Synergy and Horizon Power – business customers will receive a one-off $2500 credit if they consume less than 50 megawatt hours per annum. The credit is available for current customers (as of March 31, 2020) and will be allocated from May 1, 2020 to reduce current and future electricity bills.
  • Payroll tax will be waived between March 1 and June 30 this year for businesses which have annual wages of less than $7.5 million.
  • Licence fees for small and medium-sized businesses in COVID-19 impacted industries, such as hospitality and tourism, will be waived for the next 12 months.

Community groups

  • Synergy and Horizon Power – community customers will receive a one-off $2500 credit, if they are currently on community service and charitable accommodation electricity tariffs. The credit will be allocated from May 1, 2020 to reduce current and future bills.

Health and frontline service delivery

  • A further $500 million has been allocated to boost capacity for additional industry support and to fund supplies of personal protective equipment, ventilators, additional staff and hospital beds. This funding will also cover increased cleaning of public transport and schools and any additional measures required by frontline services during the COVID019 pandemic.

In addition to confirming the delay of the 2020-21 May State Budget until October 8 – in line with the deferral of the Federal Budget to October 6 – WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt has promised another recovery package to be announced later in the year.

Jennifer Kirk is an Associate Director in Cannings Purple’s Government Relations team and spent more than seven years in Canberra working for the Commonwealth Department of Finance, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Commonwealth Treasury. If you need help mapping out your government engagement, contact Jennifer.

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Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash