Western Australia’s record building and infrastructure program will help sustain the State’s economic growth while continuing to contain debt, Premier Alan Carpenter said today.
Mr Carpenter said the people of Western Australia had worked hard to put their State at the forefront of Australia’s economic performance.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that as a Government we repay that effort by investing public money in the projects and key services we know people need, want and deserve,” he said.
The Premier said the Budget included a $26.1billion building program over the next four years, with $7.6billion in 2008-09 that included funding for new hospitals, schools, roads and ports as well as major upgrades to the electricity network and the new desalination plant.
“We are also committing to a range of social projects that include a new major stadium, the Perth Arena, a performing arts centre, a museum and the Perth Waterfront development,” he said.
“By reinvesting every cent of the $1.855billion surplus from the Budget to build our State, we are ensuring that everyone is benefiting from our strong economy and that we sustain growth for as long as possible while helping contain our debt.”
Mr Carpenter said the Budget also shared the State’s prosperity through significant new spending on child protection, health care, including mental health, law and order and community safety, education and training and public housing.
It also included reforms to the State taxation system that provided tax relief worth $1.2billion.
“The Budget sees an effective 15 per cent cut to stamp duty - which will slash about $3,000 from the cost for homebuyers to purchase a median priced house,” the Premier said.
“There will also be reductions in land tax with reforms to payroll tax to ease the compliance burden on business.”
Mr Carpenter said this was the Government’s eighth consecutive balanced Budget and major features included:
· $4.5billion for health care - up 5.8 per cent with a 22.7 per cent increase for mental health;
· $3.6billion for education and training - an increase of 3.9 per cent;
· $2billion for law and order and community safety - up $135million with a 7.6 per cent increase for WA Police;
· a $1.2billion tax relief package that would cut stamp duty by 15 per cent (or around $3,000) for the buyer of a median-priced home; and
· $387.7million for disability services, an increase of $17.4million on the current financial year.
The Budget would also include funding over four years of:
· $185million for child protection and mandatory reporting, an increase of 14.8 per cent on last year to the Department for Child Protection; and
· $61million to bring another 4,400 apprentices and trainees into the State’s workforce.
The Premier said capital works highlights included:
· $502million in 2008-09 on health infrastructure - an 84 per cent increase on last year.
· $334million over the forward estimates and $1.07billion over the next eight years for a new major stadium at Kitchener Park, in Subiaco;
· $52 million over the forward estimates for the new museum on the old East Perth Power Station site;
· $319million on the Perth Waterfront project ($50.571million within the forward estimates);
· $810 million in 2008-09 for roads with major projects including $246.3million for the $705million New Perth-Bunbury Highway;
· $1.1billion for water infrastructure, including the start of work on the Southern Seawater Desalination Plant;
· $1.2billion for electricity infrastructure, focusing on safety and reliability and meeting the needs of the State’s fast growing economy, including commencement of a $295million 300kV transmission between Pinjar and Moonyoonooka, near Geraldton, and $50 million over four years to enable Verve Energy to initiate renewable energy projects; and
· $212million for the purchase and/or construction of public rental housing.
Mr Carpenter said WA was already spending more on law and order and community safety per capita than any other Australian State.
“Our health spending continues to grow rapidly - just under a quarter of total Government expenditure - and our per capita rates are level with Queensland and ahead of NSW and Victoria,” he said.
The Premier said the Government had also committed an extra $2.1billion to ensure better pay for nurses, doctors, police, teachers and other key Government workers.
“The Government needs to pay key service staff at a rate that reflects their vital role while also continuing to attract and retain the right people,” he said.
“Enterprise bargaining agreements have been reached with the State’s health workers and police, making them among the best paid in the nation, and negotiations with the State’s teachers are ongoing.”
Mr Carpenter said the basket of household fees and charges, which had already been announced, would be kept at 2.4 per cent - well below the 3.4 per cent reference rate of inflation.
“For eight years in a row, we have kept increases in household fees and charges to below the rate of inflation,” he said.
“Overall, this year’s arrangements will result in the average household paying an extra $85 a year, or about $1.60 a week.”
The Premier noted that forecasts showed the surplus would be significantly reduced by 2011-12 with major reductions to WA’s slice of the GST pie a major contributor.
“This will see our surplus curtailed significantly but the Government will ensure it continues to manage the economy prudently to protect our AAA credit rating and our growing international reputation as a brilliant place to do business,” he said.
“The Carpenter Government is making big decisions for the State, and spending money on key infrastructure which will last.
“This Budget is for all Western Australians.”
Premier's office - 9222 9475