Last week’s budget surplus provided a huge statement for Mark McGowan intending to underline his economic credentials as his government battle against the previous Barnett regime that left the State’s financials in the red.
The State Government’s $553m windfall came with many complimentary features; funding to tackle WA’s increasing meth epidemic, greater eligibility for West Australian’s looking to receive a leg up into the property market and important funds dedicated to easing congestion and improving the standards of our major road infrastructure, amongst the highlights for regional residents.
While the local Member for Roe Peter Rundle described the budget as ‘neutral’ there were some aspects to it, including how they achieved that outstanding surplus that has state politicians concerned.
“For us, as a regional party, we’re a bit disappointed because of the fact ‘Royalties for Regions’ has been cut back… 1.6 billion over the four years is being re-purposed into things like water corporation subsidies and orange school buses, which are things that should be coming out of normal consolidated spending.”
Mr. Rundle feels that the ‘Royalties for Regions’ scheme has been hijacked by the McGowan Government, and is not being used for its intended purpose.
“We (the State Nationals) want new projects and things to inject some life into our regional economies and help out small business as well”
Over $300 million dollars of the surplus amount was money that was planned originally for ‘Royalties for Regions’… because it hasn’t been committed to rural projects it can now be used in other areas that some may consider more essential items like power or water infrastructure.
Sean spoke to the Member for Roe in the Triple M Breakfast Show, that chat can be heard at the following audio around 13 minutes in.
The State Nationals leader Mia Davies was also critical of the budget.
“It’s an operating surplus and we would say it has been delivered on the grave of ‘Royalties for Regions’”
She also highlighted the other financial factors that have boosted the WA government kitty.
“A little bit of lady luck. GST has been hard a hard fought argument that we have been arguing for many, many years and also we have iron ore prices sitting around 95 dollars a tonne, so that’s delivered them funding that I would have given my left arm for when I was sitting around the cabinet table.”
While there is no doubt the McGowan Government is regularly undermining the crowning policy of the State National Party, there is also no denying the budget will deliver some pivotal projects in the south-east region of WA.
Peter Rundle again.
“These are good projects, the $4.1 million Esperance indoor stadium… $6.9 million to upgrade Shed Four at the Port of Esperance to allow us to put a few more different commodities through the port and also the $40-odd million upgrade to the Coolgardie-Esperance highway… and probably the one that is the most important to me is the new south regional TAFE campus, which is still in the budget, that’s the main thing, it won’t be happening for a year or two but still there, (and) of course the one we’ve always spoken about the state barrier fence extension, really keen to see that one get started.”