07/05/2020 - 15:26

COVID-19 daily wrap: $100m for universities, local councils

07/05/2020 - 15:26

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The state government is providing special assistance for universities and local councils. A new scheme has been announced to help the mining industry. Western Australia has reported no new coronavirus infections.

Ben Wyatt is encouraging local governments and universities to take up the loan offer. Photo: Attila Csaszar
  • The state government will provide $100 million in short-term loans to universities and local councils taking a financial hit from COVID-19. The lending will be available from the Western Australian Treasury Corporation (WATC), with applications opening on June 1.
  • WATC is also offering longer-term loans to assist local governments and universities in progressing important capital works projects, Treasurer Ben Wyatt said. 
  • “I encourage local governments and universities to take advantage of the historical low interest rates to bring forward projects to support local communities and the economic recovery from COVID-19,” Mr Wyatt said. 
  • The lending will be reviewed within three months with options to increase, depending on take-up.
  • The Urban Development Institute of Australia WA (UDIA WA) welcomed the announcement, with chief executive Tanya Steinbeck calling it a “vital move” to boost economic growth.
  • “UDIA WA has been working closely with local governments and the Department of Planning Lands and Heritage for the last few weeks to identify local infrastructure projects that can be brought forward to support the economic recovery,” Ms Steinbeck said. “We are talking about ‘shovel ready’ projects that will now be able to secure that extra financial boost they need to get started straight away, at a time when they are needed most.”
  • The state government has also streamlined administrative procedures for mining companies to ensure continuity of service during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston said the mining sector had been cooperative and compliant in response to government measures put in place to limit the spread of the virus.
  • “Maintaining a strong resources sector will be critical in ensuring our state and the wider Australian economy are well-positioned to bounce back when the global economy recovers from this pandemic,” Mr Johnston said.
  • BHP, which announced in March it would take on 1,500 extra employees in six-month contracts, today said it has filled 1,100 roles, including 450 in WA. This includes around 45 Qantas and Virgin staff.
  • Western Australia has reported no new coronavirus infections for the eighth day in a row, leaving the state’s total unchanged at 551. It is the fifteenth time WA has reported zero new COVID-19 cases since February 21.
  • Three more people have recovered from the virus, reducing the state’s active cases to 11. Of these, eight are Western Australians, two are from interstate and one is from the Artania cruise ship. There is one active case in regional WA, in the Goldfields.
  • Total recoveries across the state now stand at 531, representing more than 96 per cent of all WA cases.
  • Six confirmed COVID-19 patients remain in Perth metropolitan hospitals. Of these, three are in intensive care.
  • Health Minister Roger Cook said despite the positive numbers, Western Australians should still adhere to social distancing rules and practice good personal hygiene.
  • “While there is no sustained community spread in WA, there is also no guarantee that the virus is not lurking in our community,” Mr Cook said. "If we start to be casual and drop our guard we risk undoing all the great work that we have achieved as a community.” The health minister said easing of restrictions was only possible if WA stayed on top of the virus.

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