Hon Troy Buswell BEc MLA

Hon Troy Buswell BEc MLA

Former Treasurer; Minister for Transport

    State Budget 2013-14: Protecting our community

    8/08/2013 12:00 AM
     
    • Police numbers to increase by an additional 550 officers over four years
    • Funding to cut court backlogs
    • Funding follows unprecedented spend on victims of crime support services
    • $2m to build a new family refuge in the metro area
    • $30.7m for a rescue helicopter and greater protection for firefighters
    • Increased assistance to low income families and seniors to pay electricity bills

    The Liberal National Government has boosted WA Police’s budget by $56.4million to $1.263billion in 2013-14, providing funding for extra police and police station upgrades.

     

    Treasurer Troy Buswell said the increased funding would deliver on the Liberal National Government’s commitment to recruit an extra 550 police and police auxiliary officers over the next four years.

     

    Mr Buswell said the State Budget committed $282million over four years for the recruitment of an additional 400 police officers and 150 police auxiliary officers, as well as for police station builds and upgrades to accommodate these new officers.

     

    The Treasurer said 50 police officers recruited in 2013-14 would join a new rapid response unit south of the river. Thirty-three auxiliary officers would be assigned to general duties.

     

    The State Government had also provided WA Police with $10.5million over four years ($2.5million in 2013-14) from Royalties for Regions to assist in attracting officers into hard-to-fill regional postings, and retaining them in those positions.

     

    The incentives involve an initial attraction payment, and a further payment if the officer serves more than three and a half years of service at the location.

     

    “The Government acknowledges that it is often difficult for regional locations to attract and retain police officers.  These payments will go some way towards recognising the difficult work regional police officers do,” Mr Buswell said.

     

    The State Budget law and order funding also included $8.2million over the next four years to allow the Office of the State Coroner to manage and reduce a backlog of cases.

     

    In addition, $4.2million would be spent over four years to provide the Family Court of WA with extra resources to address its increasing workload and enable a reduction in time to trial. The State Budget also provides $4.5million over four years to allow courts to sit for additional hours at night and on weekends. The funding would engage magistrates, associated court staff and Legal Aid duty lawyers and free up police officers from custodial duties. The allocation also provides for enhanced video link capacity to enable regional police stations access to the extended justice service at the Perth Police Centre. 

     

    The Liberal National Government will increase protection for firefighters through a $15.4million investment towards protective equipment and $15.3million towards a new emergency rescue helicopter service in the South-West region.

     

    Comprehensive Crew Protection Systems will be installed in 667 Department of Fire and Emergency Service and Local Government firefighting vehicles which operate at high-risk bushfires. The protection equipment includes in-cab breathing systems, under body and external water spray protection systems, GPS tracking devices and heat lagging and shielding.

     

    “These new crew protection systems are proven to save lives and we are providing the best protection possible for the volunteers and career firefighters who fight dangerous bushfires across WA,” the Treasurer said.

     

    The State Budget commits $10.3million over three years to help keep young people on the right track, with funding to refurbish and upgrade Police and Community Youth Centres. The centres play a key role in tackling youth offending and working with at-risk youth. 

     

    It also delivers $2million to build an additional refuge shelter in 2013-14 to protect women and children who flee from domestic violence.

     

    The new shelter will be built in the metropolitan area and allow mothers and their children to live independently within a community environment.  The Department for Child Protection and Family Support will also spend an additional $3.5million over the forward estimates period on increased support and outreach services for victims of domestic violence accessing the new shelter. 

     

    The State Budget also includes more than $6million in 2013-14 to reduce the risk of shark attacks and protect beachgoers, with the ongoing rollout of shark mitigation programs.

     

    Assistance to Families and Seniors

     

    The total value of social concessions in 2013-14 is forecast to approach $860million.

     

    Mr Buswell said the State Budget included funding for increases to the Cost of Living Assistance payment - up from $200 to $208 per household with $62.2million allocated to the program. The payment was established to help low income families and individuals, seniors and veterans and pensioners pay their electricity bill.

     

    The Dependent Child Rebate will also increase - up by four per cent, providing families with between $252.87 per annum (for one child) and up to $451.72 per annum (for four or more children). The total expected cost of the rebate, which provides assistance for low income families with children to pay their electricity bill, is $14.4million in 2013-14.

     

    The Treasurer said the Government last month paid $39.7million in Cost of Living rebates to WA Seniors Card holders with seniors receiving $239.90 per couple or $159.90 for singles as an annual payment.

     

    Seniors Card holders will benefit from $1,412 concessions and payments this financial year.

     

    The State Budget also provides more money for the Hardship Utilities Grant Scheme (HUGS). A total of $11.6 million has been allocated to HUGS in 2013-14 - an additional $7.5million on the previous year.

     

    HUGS provides assistance for people in financial hardship to pay their utility accounts and maintain connection to essential services including electricity, water and gas services, and avoid eviction.

     

           Fact File

    • Funding in 2013-14 to recruit 50 extra police officers, 33 police auxiliary officers, is in line with the Government’s commitment to deliver an additional 550 police officers and police auxiliary officers and 200 public servants over five years
    • Funding for courts builds on recent new initiatives to improve the services and support available to victims, including $3m over four years on expanding the Child Witness Service, Victim Support Service and Family Violence Intervention Service, which is on top of the $2.8m this Government spends annually on victims of crime services
    • In addition, the Government has committed $3m to provide counselling and support to Aboriginal people living in areas of regional WA with a high prevalence of family violence
    • The Government has recently committed $600,000 to establish a metropolitan legal service for indigenous victims of family violence, including people who had been sexually abused or those at immediate risk of such violence
    • The Attorney General has asked the Law Reform Commission to examine current legislation and recommend potential reforms that will enhance the interests of domestic violence victims and ensure they are protected and promoted in State law
    • In 2013-14, Department for Child Protection and Family Support will allocate $20.2m for 37 specialist accommodation and support services for women and children escaping family and domestic violence
    • $23.3m is being spent on shark hazard mitigation over five years
    • GPS tracking of dangerous sex offenders has been introduced, as well as mandatory jail for assaults against police, ambulance officers, transit guards, court security officers and prison officers
    • $36m for flashing speed zone signs will be installed at every WA school with a 40kmh zone
    • WA Budget statements are available at http://ourstatebudget.wa.gov.au

    Treasurer’s office - 6552 6400