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WA freezes water prices as part of COVID-19 response

The Western Australian (WA) state government will put a freeze on increasing household fees and charges, including water, as part of a $607 million dollar response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

There are now more than 200,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus across the globe, including 548 in Australia. Of these, 43 people have recovered and 6 have died. 

WA has reported 35 cases and one death.

WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt said the stimulus package, announced on Monday, was designed to support households and small-to-medium-sized businesses, and help combat the economic impacts of the global pandemic. 

"We recognise that household fees and charges are an impost on many WA families, particularly during times of uncertainty,” he said 

"The McGowan Government was examining ways to provide relief to households as part of the upcoming state budget but, due to the ongoing concerns around COVID-19, it's appropriate that we announce the freeze now, to give families some certainty going forward.”

State government-owned utility Water Corporation had increased fees for water, drainage and wastewater services by 2.5% from 1 July last year.

Previously, the budget included an increase of $127, or 2%, in fees and charges, which was the estimated inflation rate for 2020-21.

In addition to freezing water rates, the package, which marks the first freeze on household fees and charges from the state government in 16 years, will apply to other ‘household basket’ items including electricity, motor vehicle charges, emergency services levy and public transport fares.

Wyatt said it would cost $402 million to freeze household fees and charges until at least 1 July 2021.