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  • Rikki Lambert

Pandemic compensation emerges in SA election campaign

A South Australian state upper house candidate has called for compensation for sectors affected by pandemic related restrictions.

The call comes after a western SA business spoke of the severe financial impacts of the Western Australian government's decision to extend its border closure due to COVID-19 fears.

Craig Haslam from western SA based business Untamed Escapes told Flow:

"We would do on a normal year 30 trips across the Nullarbor a year from Adelaide to Perth, drop the people off in Perth and pick up another group and we go to Adelaide. We sleep in swags under the southern sky or we have accommodated tours as well. In WA we also do a 6 day Esperance tour and a wellness tour in the Margaret River.
"In those 2 years of COVID, we've done 4 or 5 tours and when you're paying nearly $4-4500 a month to rent a depot in Perth you're contracted to, and you can't break the contract, it's a lot to pay.
"We were told three months ago that the borders will open in March, so we started to advertise ... about $180,000 worth of bookings we had to refund just in that month. So it really hurts when (Mr McGowan) changes his mind.
"I thought I was hard done by but when I spoke to Kimberley Wild up in the Kimberleys, their refunds are five times mine. As soon as they made the decision in February not to open the borders, the amount of refunds makes mine insignificant even though I really feel mine. That's the damage it's doing."

Liberal Democrat lead candidate for the Legislative Council, James Hol, told Flow on Friday his party would seek a state compensation scheme for businesses adversely affected by pandemic restrictions.

Mr Hol said on Friday:

"I see this as no different to when the government compensates someone when they have to demolish their property to develop South Road, for example.
"If the government has deteriorated property (whether tangible or intangible) or revenue due to their policies, they must be liable for the damages."

The LDP's 'Freedom Declaration' for the 19 March poll states:

"Certainty for the hospitality, entertainment and tourism industries. The impact from prior and current restrictions as well as the risk of reckless future restrictions is preventing these industries from flourishing.
"Government should be required to pay compensation for all businesses whose revenue or private property has been harmed by any restrictions.
"Current compensation schemes are a tangled web of bureaucracy. Compensation should be easy and accessible for all businesses and apply automatically and immediately when restrictions are implemented.

United Australia Party candidate for the South Australian senate at the imminent federal election, Michael Arbon, said:

"If we were in Government we wouldn’t have had border closures or lockdowns which have absolutely devastated businesses. "I hear from impacted businesses everyday. These once thriving tourism, hospitality and retail businesses have been absolutely smashed by the actions taken by state and federal governments in response to the pandemic."

The federal, NSW, Victoria and SA state governments and oppositions have been contacted for comment on a redress or compensation scheme for both businesses but also those that suffered harm from decisions lacking in compassion such as refusals to allow relatives to see their dying loved ones before they passed.


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