The Shadow Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Small Business Dr Steve Thomas says the Premier’s announcement of $77 million for compensation for COVID impacted businesses is a tokenistic pledge that is far too little, and far too late.
“This is a Government that had a $5.8 billion surplus last year and is staring down the barrel of a $5 billion surplus this year. To suggest $77 million, or 0.7% of those surpluses, is adequate compensation for thousands of struggling small businesses in this state is a joke,” Dr Thomas said.
“It simply demonstrates that the Premier either doesn’t understand business or doesn’t care.”
Business has been demanding consistency from the State Government, which has instead been delivering a lack of clarity and changing the rules regularly.
“I was astounded to hear the Premier say today that his COVID modelling is no good. If the modelling is no good, what is the Premier basing his decisions on?”
Dr Thomas said the Premier should trust the community with the planning and modelling he has for the COVID transition even if he doesn’t trust it, instead of keeping it secret.
“Most of us who have raised concerns are happy to credit the Government for its management of COVID in 2020 and 2021, including me,” Dr Thomas said. “For two years it has been all about keeping COVID out of Western Australia, and the Government can claim success until now.
“But now the Premier has had to acknowledge that it is here, and he has even admitted that WA has no chance of eliminating its Omicron wave as it did previous outbreaks. The Government’s agenda has changed from excluding COVID to minimising and living with it.”
“In managing COVID however the burden placed on business is extreme, as the rule changes are focussed on them, and they have to do most of the compliance work.”
Dr Thomas said that the Government seems intent on keeping the plan for transition a secret and refusing to share the detail with the public or the businesses and industries that are forced to implement it.
Dr Thomas said that the Western Australian business community and the WA public are mature enough to be told the whole truth, including what the modelling really is.
“It is not acceptable for Mr McGowan to act as though he has to keep us all in the dark for our own good.
“We should have had a proper plan for transition released already so business had certainty on the requirements they have to face, but the Premier is yet to deliver one.”