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Parliamentary Questions

Question Without Notice No. 308 asked in the Legislative Council on 1 April 2020 by Hon Alison Xamon

Parliament: 40 Session: 1

Answered on 1 April 2020

CORONAVIRUS — UTILITY CHARGES — GOVERNMENT SUPPORT

308. Hon ALISON XAMON to the minister representing the Treasurer:

I ask this question on behalf of Hon Tim Clifford, who is out of the chamber on urgent parliamentary business.

I refer to the McGowan government's $1 billion financial relief package announced yesterday.

(1) Will the Treasurer please confirm that if a household is required to defer payments to state-owned utilities such as Synergy, Horizon Power or Water Corporation, it will still be required to pay the full amount owed after the deferral period?

(a) What support will be given by the state government to support households that will be faced with high unpaid water and electricity bills once the deferral period has ceased?

(b) Was any consideration given to waiving payments for households to alleviate the financial burden of additional debt when Western Australia enters the recovery phase of this pandemic?

(2) What financial support will the state government give households that are not eligible for the energy assistance payment but are still financially impacted by COVID-19?

Hon STEPHEN DAWSON replied:

I thank Hon Tim Clifford for some notice of the question.

(1) (a) All household customers will have their tariffs frozen at current rates for 2020–21. Furthermore, no households experiencing financial hardship will have their power or water disconnected, and no interest will be charged on deferred bill payments. For any outstanding bills at the end of the deferred period, customers will be considered under the utilities' existing arrangements to ensure that they are supported through periods of hardship. For those most at risk, refer to the answer to part (1)(b).

(b) The government has implemented a targeted assistance package worth $115.8 million to those most in need through an increase in the energy assistance payment. This will ensure that all eligible customers receive a one-off additional payment of $305.25 on top of the existing payment of $305.25 pro-rated across a customer's bills.

(2) Refer to (1)(a) and (b).

Hon ALISON XAMON: My question without notice of which some notice has been given is asked on behalf of Hon Robin Chapple, who is out of the chamber on urgent parliamentary business.

Several members interjected.

Hon ALISON XAMON: He lodged this on Tuesday, Madam President.

The PRESIDENT: We might put that question to one side for today, and we might have a think about that and come back to you. We will let you know.