The Shadow Treasurer and Shadow Minister for Small Business Dr Steve Thomas says that suggestions by the Government that they might change the February 5th opening date reflects that lack of action over two years to get the State ready for the inevitable arrival of COVID.

He has also decried the lack of a Government plan that should have been providing certainty to the business and industry communities about how they should manage the impacts when it does get here.

“The question is why, after two years of COVID impacts in Western Australia, has that plan not been written already?” Dr Thomas asked.

“The inevitable outcome – that COVID would eventually arrive here – was always a certainty, and the McGowan Government has had two years to plan for it,” Dr Thomas said. “That’s two years to provide the certainty that business is still having to call for today!

“We knew that COVID was coming way back in 2019 (the name gives it away), and our first cases here were found nearly two years ago in February 2020.

“By March 2020, the first health emergency had been declared and widespread restrictions were put in place,” Dr Thomas said. “At that point the planning for its widespread arrival should have started.”

Dr Thomas said that planning for COVID management in the community should have been completed because outbreaks were inevitable even with high vaccination rates, as demonstrated in other states and around the world.

“Victoria and NSW both hit double vaccination rates over 90% in November last year, before the Omicron explosions in which both are recording tens of thousands of new cases every day.

“When COVID inevitably arrives into our bubble, the impact on the community and particularly businesses will depend on the response plan the Government has in place. That plan should be available to businesses well in advance of the opening, because for the vulnerable, uncertainty risks their very existence.

“Business and industry are crying out for a coherent plan to be made public, but the Government seems unable to deliver one.

“That business should be asked to support a delay while the McGowan Government gets a plan together reflects years of inertia and wasted time. The date should not change; instead, the Government should do its job properly and release an adequate plan for the inevitable,” Dr Thomas said.