Balcatta candidates mull local business issues

Balcatta MLA Chris Hatton. Picture: Facebook
Balcatta MLA Chris Hatton. Picture: Facebook

BALCATTA business people got the chance to question Balcatta MLA Chris Hatton and Labor challenger David Michael at a Thursday night debate at Stirling Business Association.

Local government support, reducing red tape, favouring Australian- owned business and accelerating the WA economy were some of the topics raised at the event hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Stirling Times.

Both candidates agreed on the need to revitalise the Main Street precinct and mentioned the work of Main Street Co-op, a community group aiming to bring vibrancy to the area.

Mr Michael said Labor would commit to a full 40km/h speed trial of the area to prevent speeding on the street.

Lack of parking was a major barrier for Main Street businesses, according to Mr Hatton.

“There is one car space per 100sq m of office space for workers, even the customers can’t park there,” he said.

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Both candidates also addressed the need to reduce red tape involved with development applications, with Mr Michael committing to a “full review” of the 1995 Local Government Act.

“I can’t talk on behalf of the City of Stirling but there has been a reform process at Stirling under way in our planning department,” he said.

“Labor will do a full review of the Local Government Act. It is overdue – it came in in 1995. The world has moved on since 1995 which means if there are issues with local government the community can have their say.”

Mr Hatton said the local government development applications could become a “nightmare and a headache” for local businesses.

“The government’s urban infill program is a vision for Perth committed to urban infill and reducing red tape but (local governments) weren’t prepared to come on board with the amalgamation.”

Business owners mentioned payroll tax thresholds and land tax as an issue, which Mr Hatton said were “terrible” taxes.

“Payroll tax, land tax and stamp duty are terrible taxes but they are the only taxes we have and provide for health, law and order, infrastructure and more,” he said.

“We funded the National Disability Insurance Scheme with those taxes.”

Mr Hatton said it was “never too late” to adjust a tax. Mr Michael said payroll taxes were “not helpful investments to the local economy.”

Balcatta business owner Alex Polglaze said if the government cut taxes, businesses would not need subsidies to employ workers.

Stirling business owner Jayne Griffiths said neither candidate addressed the need for skills training.