The Shadow Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Small Business, the Hon Dr Steve Thomas MLC, said that the current occupancy rate in Perth’s CBD was a simple reflection of two years of COVID uncertainty and the lack of proper plan for transition and business compensation.

“The central city occupancy rate of 55% of pre-COVID levels identified by the Property Council is the worst outcome of all Australian capital cities, and it reflects the complexity of our State’s business COVID rules,” Dr Thomas said.

“Businesses in WA needs certainty and consistency, neither of which the Government is interested in providing.

“The only constant we have seen in recent months has been the Premier changing the rules on a weekly basis.

“It is no wonder business is struggling to keep up.”

Dr Thomas said that the culture of fear inherent in the Premier’s language had consistently damaged community confidence and delivered a flow on effect to business.

“The other major threat is that of compliance fatigue, and the lack of reward for doing the right thing for the last two years,” said Dr Thomas.

“Business who have complied with all the rule changes, like community members who have had all the vaccinations including boosters, are not seeing the benefit of doing the right thing.

“This is leading to a resistance that will continue to grow if it remains unaddressed.”

Dr Thomas also said that the Government’s inability to keep the buses running reflects a failure of planning given that they have had two years to prepare.

“The Government has known for two years that COVID was coming; that’s plenty of time to have their contingency plans in place.

“The Government should obviously confirm that bus drivers are on the list of essential workers that underpins its business response and not require any bus company to apply to confirm!

“The Government may have successfully kept COVID out for two years, and the health impact now that it is here is modest, but the response to business impacts suggests that Government does not understand how business operates.

“We have seen numerous backflips on the plans for business management and compensation, sometimes within a day of the original plan being announced,” said Dr Thomas.