WA announces state of emergency, economic stimulus package

Stimulus package includes $114m support local small and medium businesses.

Western Australia has declared a state of emergency as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus continue to rise.

A further 10 cases of the virus were announced on Monday, bringing the state total to 28.

Premier Mark McGowan and Treasurer Ben Wyatt also announced on Monday an economic stimulus package worth $607 million for households and businesses.

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.

“We are in uncharted territory and there’s no doubt our economy is going to feel the effects of COVID-19,” McGowan said.

Household fees and charges will be frozen and Western Australian small and medium businesses will receive additional relief, as part of a $607 million stimulus package announced by the state government.

An allocation of $402 million in the 2020-21 budget will go towards paying for the freeze. 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.

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 7400 Western Australian businesses will benefit from the grant.

The government will fast-track additional payroll tax relief for small businesses, with the payroll tax threshold increasing to $1 million from July 1, 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 January 1, 2020, and was due to increase again to $1 million from January 1, 2021.

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 July 21, 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.

“Today’s payroll tax measures build on the package announced last year and will ensure thousands of businesses will benefit, six months’ sooner than planned,” McGowan said.

“The one-off grant will support small businesses to respond to the impacts of COVID-19. I urge Western Australians to continue to support local businesses as we continue to manage the impacts of the virus.”

On Monday a state of emergency was also declared in Victoria and Canberra to deal with the spread of coronavirus.

As of 16 March 2020, there have been 298 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia. Of the 298 confirmed cases in Australia, 27 have recovered and five have died from COVID-19.

Across the world there have been more than 162,600 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 6300 deaths.

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