The Western Australian Government has announced support for household bills introduced, as cases for COVID-19 continue to rise.
Premier Mark McGowan told the state yesterday that all fees and charges relating to water, electricity and vehicle registration would be paused, in hopes to help provide economic relief.
The state is currently experiencing a spike of new cases, with more than 10 new cases confirmed since Sunday (at the time of this article’s publication). None of these cases are thought to be distributed through person-to-person contact.
However, the concern is around the fact that the one-day jump in cases has now brought the current confirmed figure to 28, including one fatality.
Mr McGowan said that most cases were arising in the metro area of Perth, and that the virus is not believed to be community spread at this given time.
Although the origin of one case is still unknown, nine others originated overseas. One patient has been quarantined in hospital and is in serious, yet stable condition.
Of these cases, one is thought to have been a recent returnee from Hawaii, while three more are those among the healthcare community.
As it stands, more than 5,878 negative tests have been received in WA.
Stimulus package will help pensioners and households
The WA Government’s stimulus package to combat the pressure of COVID-19 is worth around $607 million.
It will see a freeze on cost increases across motor vehicle fees, water and electricity bills, emergency service levies and public transport fares until July 2021. It’s expected it will cost the Government approximately $402 million.
Mr McGowan said this decision is the first of its kind in 16 years and will provide much-needed relief to “each and every West Australian”.
“Previously, the budget included an increase of $127 or 2 per cent in fees and charges, which was the estimated inflation rate for 2020-21,” he said.
“The Energy Assistance Payment – a rebate given to concession cardholders – will be doubled to $600 to help seniors in particular.”
Small and medium businesses to get support
A further $114 will be spent on strategies to help small to medium-sized businesses stay afloat during this difficult period.
More than 7.400 businesses with a payroll that sits between $1 million and $4 million will receive funding from these grants.
The WA Government will also expedite payroll tax relief for SMBs within six months. All in all, it’s expected that approximately 11,000 WA businesses will benefit from the boost.
Additionally, a separate grant will be issued for eligible businesses, worth a total of $17,500 as a once-off.
Meanwhile, supermarkets will open from 7 am on weekdays, under government agreement to allow elderly, disabled, and ‘vulnerable’ people to shop without stress and pressure.
During this time, only those that meet the criteria will be able to enter these supermarkets.
“These are extraordinary times that require extraordinary measures,” Mr McGowan said. “We are in a state of emergency in Australia.”
References: ABC News