By Eliza Laschon
West Australian Treasurer Ben Wyatt has decided not to go head to head with major industry in his second state budget, but has left the door open for a renewed battle with the gold sector.
After twice failing to get a gold royalty hike through the WA Parliament as part of September’s budget, this time round the Government has decided not to attempt any hugely significant cash grabs.
But when Mr Wyatt was quizzed in front of the state’s business leaders on Friday, he would not rule out trying to pursue the gold sector again in the future.
“It’s not something that I am going to reintroduce into the Parliament and get beaten up again,” Mr Wyatt said in reference to his critics and opponents of the hike.
“But it’s there and I am willing to have that conversation.”
Foreign property buyers were not so lucky and will be hit with a 7 per cent surcharge, in a move that will raise $50 million over four years.
But it is a far stretch from the $400 million the gold hike was originally hoped to generate.
This budget also sees families slugged a near $300 per year in additional household fees and charges from July.
Budget lock-up no ‘Animal House’: Treasurer
The McGowan Government had promised a “workmanlike” budget with no surprises, and apart from locking in money for its transport plan, Metronet, promised little in the way for new spending pledges.
Mr Wyatt welcomed his budget being dubbed “boring”, saying it was helping to deliver his promise of getting the state’s finances back on track.
“Maybe previous budget lock-ups had been like scenes from [the movie] Animal House … but I am very, very happy to say that boring is the new black when it comes to budgets, and that in itself makes it exciting,” he said.
WA is still expected to be back in the black by 2020-21, for the first time since 2014, with a $1.3 billion surplus predicted for that year.
The predicted deficit for this year is also substantially lower than previously forecast, at $1.3 billion.
The better-than-expected budget results will also limit the growth of net debt, which is now set to peak at $40.8 billion in 2020-21.