Western Australia unveiled a $154.5m relief package aimed at supporting the construction industry, landlords, and tenants amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Of the total package, $24.5m will be provided to the construction sector to help the industry maintain a skilled workforce during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes a $2,000 payment to eligible employers to retain existing apprentices and trainees.
Cath Hart, Western Australian executive director at the Housing Industry Association, said the outbreak has already affected the state's residential construction industry.
"Based on the state's historical data, we had a pipeline of just 13 weeks of residential projects when the economic 'hibernation' began at the end of March — so we are already working through that," she said. "Because of the downturn over the past five years, the state has a short pipeline, especially compared to the east coast, where they can have a pipeline of six to nine months of work."
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Hart said if this trend continues, all existing projects will be on-site and no new projects will be in the pipeline by June.
"Once the current batch of home building projects working through the pipeline and heads to site, we will begin to see another wave of reduced employment, this time impacting trades and suppliers as existing projects are completed," she said.
The state government's relief package also includes $100m in land tax relief for commercial landlords.
To be eligible, these landlords must provide rent relief equal to a minimum of three months' rent and freeze outgoings to small businesses that have suffered at least a 30% reduction in turnover due to COVID-19.
"This package will provide targeted financial assistance to encourage landlords to negotiate reductions in rent for small businesses that are doing it tough. The initiative will provide a potential minimum three months' rent relief and freeze outgoings at an exceptionally difficult time for thousands of small business owners around the state," said Paul Papalia, state minister for small businesses.
Furthermore, the state government committed $30m rental assistance for residential tenants who are laid-off and are struggling with their finances. Under this scheme, the state government will shoulder rents of up to $2,000, which will be paid directly to the landlord.
This grant will be provided in addition to rental reductions negotiated between tenants and landlords.
The scheme will be available to tenants or sub-tenants who have lost their job, applied to Centrelink for income support, have less than $10,000 in savings, and are still paying at least 25% of their income in rent.
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