The West

The WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called on political parties to commit to allowing small businesses to choose their own energy providers, as part of its pre-election campaign to put the focus on the small end of town.

The business lobby group claims the energy reform would encourage competition, potentially reducing bills by a fifth and addressing a major cost of doing business in WA.

Chief executive James Pearson said it was unfair that small businesses and households missed out on choice that was available to big companies and to consumers in other States. "We know that discounts of up to 20 per cent have been attained by companies that have the right to choose their own energy providers," he said.

Mr Pearson conceded it was necessary for energy prices to rise to cover the true cost of provision, but said competition would help to minimise any increase.

Other key aspects of the CCI's Vote 1 Business campaign launched yesterday include increasing the payroll tax threshold from $750,000 to $1.5 million. The CCI also called for a reduction in red tape that added an estimated $10,000 a year to business costs.

Mr Pearson said a prime example of unnecessary regulation could be seen at The Precinct Restaurant in East Victoria Park, which hosted yesterday's campaign launch.

The bar and restaurant opened without a liquor licence last February when approval was denied after an eight-month process.

Months later it got a restaurant licence to sell alcohol with meals. Soon after it got a second licence to sell drinks without a meal, at the bar. It then had to get a third licence to serve alcohol in the alfresco area.

The restaurant got a fourth licence yesterday to serve alcohol to people standing, rather than sitting, for one day only.

Owner Serita Leal said the costly and time-consuming process had hindered business.

Premier Colin Barnett said he was aware of CCI's submission.

Labor leader Mark McGowan said he would consider the CCI's request to give businesses choice of electricity provider.

The West Australian

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