The 2016-17 State Budget was been handed down by the Treasurer in State Parliament yesterday.
Ms Davies said the Treasurer’s speech outlined the exceptional circumstances the State has faced over the past eight years, pointing to the downturn in commodity prices, a perverse GST system that has delivered the lowest ever return in our tax dollar and a population boom that has seen more than 450,000 people arrive in Western Australia over the past eight years.
“Government has needed to meet the demand created by the population boom, we needed new schools, hospitals, roads, sporting infrastructure and housing,” Ms Davies said.
“Alongside all of this we needed more teachers, nurses, police and other essential workers, and we were competing with a booming mining sector for wages and conditions.”
“Despite these challenges we have continued to invest in services and infrastructure to support communities across the State, and in these tough economic times Royalties for Regions and The Nationals WA have ensured that regional Western Australia has not missed out,” Ms Davies said.
Ms Davies said Royalties for Regions continued to deliver vital funding for projects that were revitalising the electorate and the Budget papers have put paid to any concerns of cuts to Royalties for Regions.
“It’s there in black and white, $3.8b across the forward estimates in the State Budget papers,” she said.
Ms Davies said she was also pleased to see investment into road safety initiatives from the Road Trauma Trust Account, further investment in water infrastructure and changes to the payroll tax-free threshold to assist small businesses.
“Everyone knows the Wheatbelt’s road safety record is abominable, and this Budget has delivered much needed funds to start addressing that challenge,” she said.
“The road safety investment has been informed by the recently completed Wheatbelt Highway Safety Review and will provide $7.8m for works on Gt Eastern Highway and Gt Southern Hwy.”
From 1 July 2016, the State Government will assist small business by increasing the payroll tax-free threshold to $850,000, up from the current $800,000. This is estimated to benefit an estimated 11,500 businesses across the State.
“Small businesses in our region provide employment, offer a diversity of services and support for our communities, and whether they’re on the main street or operating from a home office they should be supported.
An additional $50m of Royalties for Regions has been committed to build on the $300m Seizing the Opportunity in Agriculture initiative.
“I will be pushing for the expansion of the current Water for Food program to include new areas of the State, including the Central Wheatbelt,” Ms Davies said.
“Irrigated agriculture offers the region the opportunity to diversify its economic base and there’re some exciting projects that have come across my desk as Minister for Water as we work on delivering the first stage of Water for Food.”
Sport & Recreation
There will be an additional $8.7m over 2017-18 and 2018-19 for the Community Sporting and Recreation Facilities Fund (CSRFF) to increase the base funding to $12m per annum.
“We will also continue to provide funding for our hugely successful Sport4All program, which includes KidSport.
“KidSport has helped over 54,000 Western Australian kids participate in organised sport and recreation that would otherwise be left out because their families couldn’t afford the fees or uniforms.”
Ms Davies said she was delighted the same approach was being trialled to encourage seniors participation in sport and recreation, with pilot projects being run in Northam, Kalgoorlie, Belmont and Kwinana.
“This trial will provide vouchers for low-income seniors to assist them in paying club membership fees or access the local recreation centre for activities,” she said.
The Treasurer has proposed the sale of Western Power, with the proceeds to be used to reduce debt and fund future infrastructure.
“The Nationals in Government have said they are prepared to consider the merits of any asset sale proposed by the Treasurer,” Ms Davies said.
“There are many issues to consider and as a Party we will be doing this, in consultation with our members, constituents and key stakeholders, in coming weeks and months.
“The sale is by no means a fait accompli, and we need to ensure any proposed sale will not disadvantage regional customers or deliver unintended consequences.”
Expenditure under the $500m Royalties for Regions funded Southern Inland Health Initiative (SIHI) will continue to flow, with upgrades to the Northam and Merredin Hospital’s due to commence.
“There’ll also be upgrades to our smaller hospitals and nursing posts in Beverley, York, Goomalling, Kununoppin, Quairading, Wongan Hills, Wyalkatchem, Bruce Rock, Corrigin, Kellerberrin, Kondinin, Mukinbudin and Narembeen,” Ms Davies said.[AM3]
“This is in addition to the new Primary Health Care Centre and aged care facilities in Cunderdin that have been recently announced by my colleague Hon Martin Aldridge.”
Catastrophic Injuries Support Scheme (no-fault insurance)
The Catastrophic Injuries Support Scheme (no-fault insurance) will commence in the new financial year, which will increase Compulsory Third Party insurance for all vehicle registrations.
“The charge will be $25 for tractors and $30 for farm fire-fighting vehicles, and there will also be the benefit of receiving coverage under the scheme should an accident occur on-farm,” Ms Davies said.
“There are a range of other concessions for farm businesses, and this sector is the only sector to be given this consideration.
“My colleagues and I recognise this is an additional impost on households and businesses, and while we agree with the principle underlying the new scheme we did not agree the agricultural sector should be disproportionately impacted.
Ms Davies said the new scheme was the right thing to do, especially for those families struggling to cope with a lifetime of medical bills and care as a result of a motor vehicle accident that was not their fault.
For media enquiries please contact Mia Davies MLA on 9622 2871 (Northam office), 9041 1702 (Merredin office) or email firstname.lastname@example.org