The measures are expected to provide relief to Western Australian families and small businesses, and help support the state’s economy to respond to COVID-19.
Premier Mark McGowan and Treasurer Ben Wyatt announced on Monday afternoon that, effective immediately, a freeze will be placed on household fees and charges, including electricity, water, motor vehicle charges, the emergency services levy and public transport fares.
“The package includes a freeze on household fees and charges until at least 1 July 2021, a doubling of the Energy Assistance Payment and measures to support small business,” the Premier announced on Twitter.
“We had been examining ways to provide relief to households as part of the upcoming state budget, but due to the ongoing concerns around COVID-19, we have opted to announce the freeze now, to give families some certainty going forward.”
According to the state government, an allocation of $402 million in the 2020–21 budget will go towards paying for the freeze, the likes of which haven’t been seen since 2004–05.
“For the first time in 16 years, household fees and charges will be frozen, providing relief and certainty to each and every Western Australian,” Premier McGowan said.
“It’s this relief and certainty that can help give Western Australians the confidence to continue to spend and support our local economy during these times.”
Help for small businesses
The stimulus package also includes $114 million in measures to support Western Australian small and medium businesses.
Payroll tax paying businesses with a payroll between $1 million and $4 million will receive a one-off grant of $17,500 to assist them to manage the impacts of COVID-19.
It’s expected 7,400 Western Australian businesses will benefit from the grant.
The McGowan government will also fast-track additional payroll tax relief for small businesses, with the payroll tax threshold increasing to $1 million from 1 July 2020, six months earlier than planned.
The $114 million payroll tax announcement builds on the payroll tax package announced by the government in October. As part of the package announced last year, the payroll threshold increased to $950,000 from 1 January 2020, and was due to increase again to $1 million from 1 January 2021.
According to the Premier, 11,000 Western Australian businesses will benefit from the cut in payroll tax.
In addition, small and medium-sized businesses affected by COVID-19 can now apply to defer payment of their 2019–20 payroll tax until 21 July 2020.
The deferral is available to employers who pay $7.5 million or less in Australian taxable wages and have been directly or indirectly impacted by COVID-19, compared to normal operating conditions.
“I urge Western Australians to continue to support local businesses, and each other, as we continue to manage the impacts of the virus,” Mr McGowan said.
“COVID-19 is a constantly evolving situation and the McGowan government stands ready to respond in any way necessary. Further measures to support the state’s economy are under consideration and will be rolled out as required.”
WA announcement in numbers
- $402 million to freeze household fees and charges until at least 1 July 2021
- Freeze will apply to the entire “household basket”, including electricity, water, motor vehicle charges, emergency services levy and public transport fares
- Energy Assistance Payment (EAP) doubled to support vulnerable Western Australians, including pensioners
- $114 million in additional measures to support small businesses
- Small businesses that pay payroll tax will receive a one-off grant of $17,500
- $1 million payroll tax threshold brought forward by six months to 1 July 2020
- Businesses impacted by COVID-19 can defer payroll tax payments until 21 July 2020
- Building on $760 million announced in the past few months to stimulate the economy
- Stimulus measures made possible due to the McGowan government’s responsible financial management and strong budget surplus