WA budget 2018: Winners and losers


Updated

May 10, 2018 18:26:43

Explore our guide to who benefits and who takes a hit in Ben Wyatt and Mark McGowan’s second state budget.

Loser: All of WA

The state continues to have a significant debt problem, despite Labor’s efforts to reduce it.

The economy is forecast to grow by 3.25 per cent in the 2018-19 financial year, but net debt is expected to climb to $39.1 billion in 2018-19, up from $35.95 billion this financial year. It is expected to peak at $40.9 billion in 2019-20.

There’s good news on the deficit front, however, which the government is attributing to a reduction in public spending. The deficit for 2017-18, initially forecast at $1.4 billion, has been reduced to $1.3 billion.

Labor initially promised a return to surplus by 2019-20, but that was revised to 2020-21 within months of taking office.

The Treasurer says the surplus for 2020-21 will be $1.3 billion, up from $926 million forecast during the mid-year review last December.

As far as the sell-off of public assets goes, there is still no action on the flagged TAB sale.

Treasurer Ben Wyatt says negotiations are ongoing with the racing industry, despite saying in February he’d like to see the final decision on the privatisation being made “around budget time”.

The proposed sale of Landgate also remains stalled.

Loser: Water guzzlers

Every WA household will be a hit with a 3 per cent rise to its fixed service water charge, halved from the original 6 per cent, but those who use more water will pay at a higher rate.

Perth households which use more than 500 kilolitres per year will be slugged with a 16 per cent water price hike from July 1, while big regional water consumers will see their bills rise 10 per cent.

Water Minister Dave Kelly says Perth’s dams receive about 25 billion litres of water each year from rainfall, but all of that water is consumed by just 7 per cent of households, which use more than 500 kilolitres a year.

Water bills for the average household — which uses 240 kilolitres of water annually — will rise by 5.5 per cent.

Mixed: Public transport

Not only will public transport fares rise 1.5 per cent, but there’s still no full Metronet funding to enable the Ellenbrook stage to proceed.

The Federal Government announced last month it would kick in $500 million for the Ellenbrook line, but today’s budget contains no significant additional money for the project.

Just $21 million in state funding is contained the forward estimates for Metronet, plus a further $7 million for Metronet offices.

However, the McGowan Government is passing on Commonwealth funding handed over for the project.

Winner: Motorists

Plans to widen the freeway are on track, with $15 million allocated for a new lane on the northern section of the Mitchell Freeway between the Hutton Street on-ramp and the Cedric Street off-ramp.

This is expected to significantly improve traffic flows in the area, after Main Roads figures showed 25,000 vehicles a day were using it during the afternoon peak hour — well above capacity.

Construction is set to begin on a number of other freeway upgrades, including widening the route on the southbound section between Cedric Street and Vincent Street, and on the northbound part between Russell Road and the Roe Highway.

There are also a number of road safety initiatives, including improving the Indian Ocean Drive between Two Rocks and Lancelin and upgrading Great Eastern Highway in the Wheatbelt.

Loser: Foreign investors

People from overseas wanting to invest in residential property in WA will be hit with a 7 per cent surcharge from January 1 next year.

The measure is more than the 4 per cent surcharge initially flagged, but will not apply to “significant residential developments” of 10 or more dwellings.

The move has already been criticised by the Real Estate Institute of WA which says it will “just disincentivise further any foreign investment in Western Australian property”.

Treasurer Ben Wyatt is unrepentant though — he says it will add $50 million more than a 4 per cent tax would have into the state’s coffers over the next four years

Loser: Households

Fees and charges will rise 4.8 per cent, or about $292 a year per household.

In addition to the average water rate increase of 5.5 per cent, electricity prices are up 7 per cent, which equates to about 30 cents a day for the average household.

Public transport costs are up 1.5 per cent, though student fares will remain at 70 cents.

Vehicle licensing fees are up 5.8 per cent, and there is a 2.4 per cent hike in motor injury insurance.

There will also be a $28 increase to the metropolitan emergency services levy, with smaller increases for regional areas.

Loser: Royal Perth Hospital

The ageing facility is in need of major surgery, but the Government has chosen to continue with band-aid solutions for now. While a redevelopment remains on the cards, it is not going to happen any time soon.

There’s no money in today’s budget to kick the process off, despite the Federal Government’s announcement last week that it would allocate $20.3 million to the project.

There is, however, $11.8 million for a mental health observation area at the hospital.

Winner: Other hospitals

Geraldton Hospital finally receives funding for its long overdue upgrade.

There is $79.2 million for the redevelopment, which includes $6 million for an offsite mental health facility.

Joondalup Hospital will get $158 million for new operating theatres, a stroke unit and an expanded emergency department, as well as new inpatient beds and a Medi Hotel.

Osborne Park Hospital gets $25 million, $10.6 million of which has come from federal coffers, and there is also $1.8 million for a family birth centre at Fiona Stanley.

Loser: Miners

Mining tenement rents will go up 6 per cent this financial year and a further 6 per cent in 2019-20.

The Treasurer says this will raise $15 million.

Exploration licence fees will jump a more modest 1.5 per cent.

The Government says the increased revenue will be used for the exploration incentive scheme, which provides subsidies for companies exploring in remote and under explored regions.

Winner: Jobseekers

Just weeks after the state’s unemployment rate reached its highest rate in almost two decades, the budget indicates 50,000 new jobs will be created over the next four years.

The Premier says Metronet will create many new jobs, including an estimated 2,350 positions associated with a raft of new social housing projects and community hubs.

There’s also $4.9 million for Defence West, to help WA get future defence contracts and hence extra jobs.

Winner: Courts

Growing pressure on the court system has prompted the government to fund two extra magistrates.

The time taken to get cases to trial has blown out 62 per cent since 2011-12, and the new positions are expected to cut this waiting time.

No decision has yet been made on where the magistrates will be located.

The completion date for the new Armadale courthouse and police complex has also been brought forward to October 2021.

Winner: Arts and culture

Included in the budget is a $3 million fund to support local contemporary musicians. The money — to be administered in a series of grants — is to cover marketing, recording and production costs, and aims to help artists build

links nationally and internationally.

His Majesty’s Theatre is set for a $6.5 million upgrade, including a lift for the orchestra pit and improved public areas.

Topics:

state-parliament,

government-and-politics,

states-and-territories,

budget,

australia,

wa

First posted

May 10, 2018 16:04:55



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