Advocacy during the COVID-19 crisis
By Stuart Norman, Parking Australia CEO
Parking Australia has been extremely active in advocating for the industry during this national crisis. This has included engagement with the Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit, the NSW, WA and Victorian Governments on Congestion / Parking Space Levies, other key industry bodies and of course, many members from a range of segments in the parking industry.
Parking Australia has provided a summary of Federal and State Government business stimulus measures that have been announced so far. The most recent is the JobKeeper payment of $1,500 per fortnight, which will go to businesses regardless of their employees’ salaries
Further details of the scheme can be found in our summary of Federal and State Government stimulus measures (featured in the monthly newsletter). Can I encourage all businesses to sign up to the updates on the scheme. The link is provided in our stimulus measures update.
Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit
Parking Australia has had direct contact with the Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit. This unit is engaging with peak business and industry groups on systemic issues arising from Coronavirus to ensure these are being brought to the attention of Government. Its purpose is to focus on crucial issues, where the Government may be able to undertake additional work to support what business is doing.
As recently as Sunday afternoon, the unit acknowledged that the issues Parking Australia raised are being taken into consideration by Federal Government, who are also addressing these issues with state governments and other bodies.
Parking Australia outlined the following issues:
- State based Congestion / Parking Space Levies
- Tenancy Relief for car park operators and related businesses
- The impact free and unenforced on-street parking is having on off-street facilities
- In the event of further shutdowns, which parking facilities would be considered essential?
- Effects on both on-site and off-site airport parking
- Hospital parking
Parking Australia will continue to liaise with this unit as they are the key conduit for industry groups and the Federal Government at this time.
Congestion / Parking Space Levies
On 18 March, Parking Australia released a statement calling on the NSW, WA and Victorian Government to suspend their respective parking levies. This request comes at a time when parking owners and operators are facing an extreme downturn in patronage while still being required to fulfil lease arrangements and pay for these levies.
We wrote to each of the state treasurers and have had our request considered by NSW and Victoria. The WA Government have been less receptive, and we will continue bring to this matter to the WA Treasurer’s attention.
The NSW Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, has been receptive to our request and while they have not suspended the levy as requested, they are deferring the payment of the levy in NSW for 6 months. They have also committed to working with Parking Australia and the industry on further matters.
The NSW levy is different to the other two states, as it’s based on usage and not the number of spaces. However, the calculation of the usage is historical and does not reflect the current situation that owners and operators are facing.
In Victoria, Parking Australia put a proposal to the Treasurer on the 15 March. The response provided to us on 22 March is that a suspension of the Congestion Levy would send the wrong message to the public regarding the safety of public transport. Things have moved quickly with the crisis and Parking Australia will continue to communicate our message to the Victorian Government.
The Western Australian Government has stated to Parking Australia that they will consider action on the Perth parking space levy, but they would be more likely to act following an announcement from one of the other states. Now that NSW has moved, it is our hope that both WA and Victoria will follow.
Parking Australia has been in contact with the NSW Treasury who are heading up the work on commercial tenancy relief for Australian business. Parking Australia has stated that any commercial tenancy relief should include car parks.
The Prime Minister stated on Sunday night that tenants and their landlords should first be discussing their commercial arrangements. At this stage, it seems that a government announcement on this will not occur for a number of days.