WA to return to surplus sooner than expected, says Premier Mark McGowan

WA expects to have a substantial surplus a year sooner than originally estimated, WA Premier the Hon. Mark McGowan has told CEDA’s State of the State event in Perth.

“I am very happy to announce to you that WA will once again be in surplus in 2019-20, one year ahead of schedule,” he said.

“In our first budget we were projecting a $1.1 billion deficit.

“By mid-year review, we got it down to just under $700 million and in this year’s budget back in May, we slashed it to just $160 million.

“This is the first time Western Australia will be in surplus in six years.

“When we looked at budget repair in each of our last two budgets we made sure the burden was shared across the community.

“We froze the salaries of all politicians, judges and the highest paid public servants for four years to show that those at the top were willing to set the example.

“For the rest of the public sector we set a tough new wages policy to get the finances under control, with a flat $1000 increase no matter the level of employee, meaning those who earn the least received an above inflation pay rise, while saving the taxpayers half a billion dollars.”

He said that while the recent reallocation of federal GST money had improved the states position, the surplus would not have been achieved without a financially responsible cabinet.

“Additional GST revenue, estimated to be $1.7 billion across the next three years, will be directed to the debt reduction account, saving at least $200 million in interest payments alone,” he said.

“While the GST fix helps, we would not be in this position, nor would we ever have even secured the deal, if we hadn’t shown financial restraint and responsibility ourselves.

“After two budgets and 20 months of government the economy is showing the first year of growth in half a decade.

“Forty-eight thousand jobs have been created, crime is on the decrease and billions in new road and rail funding has been secured from the Federal Government.”

Commenting on broader economic activity and trends, Premier McGowan said that while house prices had been in decline across the nation, his government would further expand Keystart to assist first homebuyers.

“WA will be expanding the size of the Keystart loan book by over $420 million,” he said.

“This is the most financially responsible mechanism the State Government has at its disposal to assist the housing market and support the residential construction industry.

“Last year 77 per cent of Keystart loans were used for construction or newly constructed homes, a clear benefit for our construction and building industry.

“In 2017-18 Keystart loans supported an estimated 1700 jobs and generated up to $670 million in economic activity.”

Speaking on other key commitments, Premier McGowan said his government was delivering, with key projects on track.

“Metronet was designed not just for the economic stimulus and productivity improvements that come from urban rail, but because of the quality of life improvements that come from delivering good public transport to the outer suburbs for the working men and women and their families who live there,” he said.

“Prioritising the repair and opening of the Children’s Hospital was about making sure our children had the quality healthcare they deserved.

“Making sure the long-suffering staff of Princess Margaret Hospital could finally get their new workplace and ending the waste of taxpayers’ money on a hospital without patients and a car park without cars.”

The Premier also said he expected Infrastructure WA legislation to be introduced next year, largely modelling the body on NSW.

“I had a briefing about two weeks ago with the NSW Minister for Transport and the head of Infrastructure NSW and they were glowing about it,” he said.

“About how it works and how it’s successfully getting some alignment between both sides in terms of infrastructure spend in NSW, doing proper business case planning, making sure that NSW puts decent submissions to Infrastructure Australia.

“We start sitting in February, I expect soon after we get back we’d be able to introduce legislation.

“We’ve funded it in the budget, so we’ve got an allocation for it.”

Event presentations

The Hon. Mark McGowan MLA, Premier of Western Australia MP3

Moderated discussion MP3

Delegate handout PDF