The Opposition has accused the Labor Government of failing to capitalise on the massive royalty income it has been gifted saying there has been no community dividend from the boom.
Opposition Leader Mia Davies said the Premier sitting on a projected $5 billion surplus but only managing to find $377 million to address the cost of living pressures was miserly and fell short of community expectations.
“Today’s announcement will be cold comfort for those struggling to make ends meet, keep a roof over their head with soaring rental prices and deal with the impacts of a COVID impacted economy,” Ms Davies said.
She questioned the Premier – who took on the role of Treasurer in April – about his inability to share dividends from record iron ore royalty rates with areas of the community in need.
“This Government has been gifted a massive surplus yet we have daily reports of a crisis in our health system, housing shortages and homelessness has increased, and our community service sector is crying out for additional funding,” she said.
“These problems are a direct result of a lack of investment and planning, quite simply they have dropped the ball on harnessing the upside of a record flow of royalties for the benefit of our State.”
Ms Davies said the hefty increase in charges in the Pilbara should be matched by an increase in funding for Pilbara communities, underpinned by a return of funds to Royalties for Regions.
“If the Government is going to extract more from the mining sector then we should expect an increase in funding to support improvements to liveability, education, health and housing outcomes for the region that drives our State and national economy,” she said.
“The Premier is collecting up a once-in-a-generation royalty boom yet there is no plan for growth in our regional centres or country towns.”
Shadow Treasurer Hon Steve Thomas MLC said the Labor Government had greater income than any other State Government of the past and the Premier’s Treasury announcement today needed to be just a first step.
“This State Government’s capacity to support WA is immense, and a $5 billion budget surplus will bring them no credit if they sit on their pile of cash for political fame,” Mr Thomas said.
“This State needs a plan to diversify our economy so we can prosper beyond the boom.”