Richard Court

Richard Court


    Premier reconfirms the Coalition's commitment to responsible financial management

    15/01/2001 3:03 PM

      Premier Richard Court has reconfirmed the Coalition Government’s strong opposition to using poker machines in clubs and hotels and toll booths on roads to raise revenue in Western Australia.

      Releasing the Coalition’s financial management policy today, Mr Court said the Government had proved to be a responsible manager of the State’s finances over the past eight years without having to resort to such socially unacceptable revenue-raising measures like other States.

      The Premier said the Coalition had exercised a great deal of financial restraint since coming into Government in 1993, after the excesses of the Labor Government had sent confidence spiralling downwards.

      “When the Coalition came into Government, the Labor Government had lost a massive $1.5 billion, lost the State’s AAA credit rating, and lost the confidence of investors,” he said.

      “Nationally and internationally, our reputation was tarnished.

      “The Coalition has worked hard to reverse this situation - we’ve restored the AAA credit rating, more than 200,000 jobs have been created and unemployment levels have significantly improved.

      “At the same time, our capital works program has doubled and net debt is at its lowest level in more than a decade.

      “In Government, the Labor Party sent Western Australia broke. The Coalition has restored the State’s financial health and credibility.”

      Mr Court said the Coalition had taken a consistent and tough stance against allowing the spread of poker machines in the State.

      “The extensive social problems that arise from gambling far outweigh any financial benefits that flow to the Government,” he said.

      “However, in States like Victoria for example, the gambling situation is getting worse - it’s reported that the State now has up to 100,000 problem gamblers and an estimated $2.6 billion has been lost on pokies in the last 15 months under the Labor Government.

      “But Victoria is too reliant on revenue from poker machines to turn back the clock on this policy.

      “Similarly on toll booths, the Coalition has responsibly funded major road projects like the Graham Farmer Freeway without tolls - unlike other States - and without having to pass the burden on to future generations.”

      Mr Court also said some Labor States were now looking to the private sector to finance major infrastructure projects, simply to shift the costs off their balance sheet and make their debt look better than it really was.

      “Are these the types of financial management strategies we can expect under a Labor Government in Western Australia?” he said.

      The Premier said the Coalition had managed WA’s finances according to a plan, restoring confidence, growing the economy through private investment, increasing public investment in infrastructure and restoring funding to the essential areas of law and order, education and health after 10 years of Labor neglect.

      He said a number of ‘quiet achiever’ initiatives had seen the Coalition improve financial management, increase accountability and transparency.

      In the next term of Government, Mr Court said the Coalition would:
      • maintain or increase the net worth of the total public sector;
      • ensure there is a declining net interest cost as a proportion of total public sector revenue;
      • ensure operating expenses of the general Government sector will decline in real per capita terms;
      • achieve an operating surplus for the general Government and total public sectors;
      • modernise the structure of Government, introducing a shared services model across groupings of relevant public sector agencies and using technology to link up State Government outlets for services such as licensing and searches; and -
      • keep taxes fair.

      Media contact:
      Justine Whittome 9222 9475