Esperance empty shop concerns, state government response

The Nationals MLA for Roe Peter Rundle said investment in regional towns would have flow on benefits for small businesses. Photo: Jake Dietsch.
The Nationals MLA for Roe Peter Rundle said investment in regional towns would have flow on benefits for small businesses. Photo: Jake Dietsch.

The state government has insisted they are working to create local jobs whilst admitting the presence of empty shops was a concern throughout WA.

Labor MLC for the Agricultural Region Laurie Graham said the issue of empty shops in Esperance was an “awful situation”. 

“When leases are expiring a lot people are taking the opportunity to reassess whether they are making a profit and if they don’t think they are, they’re moving along,” he said. 

“It’s obviously very difficult for many small businesses to compete with business being done today on the internet.”

Roe MLA Peter Rundle said the previous government used Royalties for Regions to inject money into local communities.

“That improved amenity which then in turn encouraged people to stay in their towns and open up local businesses,” he said.

Mr Rundle said projects such as the redevelopment of the Esperance Foreshore and upgrades to the Esperance Residential College were examples of initiatives which had flow on benefits for local businesses.

“The current government has their Local Projects, Local Jobs program which is a bit more focused on metropolitan electorates,” he said.

Mr Rundle said he supported the government’s initiative of putting local content advisers in each development commission to encourage people to use local content and to encourage government tenders to be awarded locally as often as possible.

Peter Rampellini is the local content adviser for the Goldfields-Esperance Development Commission.

Mr Rundle said empty shops were a problem statewide and said online retail was not helping the situation.

“I think people need to support their local shops wherever they can,” he said.

“People need to think a little bit more about how it affects their community.”

Acting Small Business Minister Bill Johnston said it was concerning when small businesses closed down.

He said the government had been working to create jobs and support local businesses through a range of policies.

“One example, includes the introduction of the WA Jobs Bill 2017, which gives WA businesses more opportunities to compete for government contracts,” he said.

“It’s important for landlords, tenants, the local government authority and the community to work collaboratively to encourage a sustainable and lively business environment.”

Mr Johnston said there was a long way to go before additional GST flowed into state coffers but he expected the WA’s proposed increased share to boost investment and consumer confidence.