The Opposition has criticised the Labor Government’s criteria for the latest round of lockdown grants that leaves some small businesses behind and unable to access funding.

Shadow Tourism Minister Vince Catania said the eligibility rules around the $3000 one-off cash grant is restricting companies who do not fall under certain industry categories.

“The stipulated requirements mean a range of small businesses like wineries, printing shops and boutique clothing stores cannot receive financial help and may potentially face financial ruin,” Mr Catania said.

“We already knew the $3000 grant was a drop in the ocean for businesses across WA who have lost tens of thousands of dollars, but now we know some of those businesses are not eligible at all.

“These small businesses have done the right thing by shutting up shop during the lockdown to protect West Australians from COVID-19 but instead of being rewarded, they are being ignored by the Labor Government.

“The Premier continues to sit on a $5 billion surplus while hundreds of small businesses are struggling to make ends meet – all because the Labor Government wants to be frugal with the State’s finances.”

Mr Catania said a tiered system should be introduced, which would see how small businesses’ funding reflects the losses incurred.

“The community deserves to see the dividend for respecting lockdown rules and keeping WA afloat during this global pandemic.

“The Premier must take action in his Treasury portfolio – which he chose to undertake – and return some of the $5 billion surplus into the small businesses that are crying out for help.”

Shadow Small Business Minister and Shadow Treasurer Dr Steve Thomas had been unrelenting in his call for the McGowan Government to provide targeted and equitable relief for small businesses from the Labor Government’s windfall three years of massive state iron ore royalties.

“No Government in our history has had a greater opportunity to support small businesses impacted by the lockdowns, ” Dr Thomas said.

“The inequity in determining eligibility for lockdown grants to small business, and the random classification of who is and who isn’t an eligible small business, is symptomatic of a Government and a Minister with a serious disconnect to the harsh economic reality of small business survival in Western Australia.

“The Minister’s statement that this round of grant payments can be expected to commence by the end of the month is a hollow promise as evidenced by the ongoing delays in the processing and rollout of grants from the Anzac Day long weekend lockdown.”

Dr Thomas said it demonstrated the Government’s inability to appreciate the severity of lockdowns on small business sustainability.

“Giving some businesses hope, only for them to discover partway through the grant application that they are not eligible is cruel in a time when the Government needs to and has the fiscal capacity to be kind.

“We need a standard set of rules for compensation for these lockdowns, not the haphazard process the Labor Government appears happy to put business through.”