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METRODEBT black hole to be shouldered by WA taxpayers

West Australians will foot the multi-billion dollar bill for the Labor Government’s yet-to-be-funded Metronet projects as costs associated with planning and construction spiral out of control.

Under questioning in Parliament last week the Transport Minister confessed the State Government could not put an accurate price tag on the entire project, which is already heavily reliant on Commonwealth funds to prop it up.

The Nationals WA transport spokesman Vince Catania said the estimated cost of Stage 1 – roughly $3.6 billion – was “wobbly at best” and did not reflect likely cost and deadline blowouts.

“The Budget shows the McGowan Government has created a provision of $1.1 billion for projects associated with Metronet yet to be allocated, with almost three quarters of that funding coming from the Commonwealth,” he said.

“To date the State has only contributed $20.2 million to this provision, leaving a gap of $350 million. And that is just one of many unknowns, let alone the cost of Stage 2.

“Without any significant new revenue source and no financial plan to get the State’s finances back on track, it’s clear Labor will be leaning on WA taxpayers – including those in the regions – to fund their pet Perth project.”

Mr Catania said other costs, such as the subsidy the State would pay for public transport services as Metronet projects came online, were also likely to skyrocket.

“With the Public Transport Authority subsidy from Government heading towards $1 billion annually and patronage trending down, the burden on West Australians to fund Metronet’s planning, construction and services is only going to increase,” he said.

“The PTA subsidy figure is soaring even before five of the Metronet projects even get rolling – imagine what it will blow out to by 2025 when all new lines are operational.

“This Government is spending a fortune on their Perth election commitments while letting regional communities suffer – and then charging them for it.”

The Nationals WA Leader Mia Davies said the Government’s absence of a financial plan meant Labor was robbing regional WA to make up for its revenue shortfalls.

“They have failed to secure new revenue sources for WA yet continue to throw piles of cash at extravagant election promises,” she said.

“Mark McGowan is using Royalties for Regions to fund core government services such as sewage and TAFE subsidies, regional school bus services and teacher assistants and ending programs that have vastly improved outcomes for regional communities.

“That way he can free up money to fund city election commitments like Metronet. The proof is in the pudding – regional WA always loses out in Labor’s budget games.”