State Budget – Investing in Regional WA
- Sixth consecutive strong budget with an operating surplus of $5.7 Billion.
- 2022/23 State Budget is designed to support households, businesses and the most vulnerable.
- Ongoing conservative approach to government expenditure to pay down net debt.
- Government anticipates a slight drop in economic growth (GSP) from 3.75% (current financial year) to 2% (in 22/23) and 1% (in 23/24) as Western Australians are expected to travel elsewhere. However, WA experienced a heightened level of economic activity over the period that closed borders where in place.
- Strong labour market conditions expected to continue with a lift in wages forecast.
- The State Budget delivers a record investment in health, strong action on climate change, targeted initiatives to diversify the WA economy and create new industries, significant funding to transform WA’s digital capability as well as tax reform initiatives and cost of living relief for WA families.
- For the regions, the State Budget continues investment in stronger regional communities through the delivery of high-quality healthcare, education, police and community services.
- New investment has been added to address the government’s key regional priorities:
- Jobs and Diversified regions
- Healthy and Resilient Communities
- Growing communities
- These priorities are also supported by an ongoing commitment of $4 billion in Royalties for Regions expenditure.
- The dynamic domestic, national and global environment will create ongoing volatility and uncertainty.
- Further support is needed to address skills shortages, lack of housing and access to regional childcare.
MAJOR WINS FOR REGIONAL WA
- INFRASTRUCTURE: $12 billion investment in infrastructure
- ROADS: $500 million to seal Tanami Roads to the WA border and $250 million to deliver stages 1 and 2 of the Pinjarra Heavy Haulage Deviation.
- COST OF LIVING: $400 electricity credit to support the cost of living pressures and ongoing $2 Billion to subsidise regional water and electricity. The regional airfare cap for regional residents will also come into effect from July 1, 2022.
- PORT INFRASTRUCTURE: $332 million for a major upgrade at the Geraldton Port to expand capacity in response to increasing demand.
- CLIMATE CHANGE: $500 million boost to the Climate Action Fund, delivering incentives for the uptake of electric vehicles and recharging infrastructure – including $10 million to support not-for-profits and SMES with grants of up to 50 percent of installing charging infrastructure.
- REGIONAL RAIL FREIGHT: $40 million (with $160 million from the Commonwealth) to improve Western Australia’s regional rail freight network.
- REGIONAL TELECOMMUNICATIONS: $48.5 million to establish the WA regional Digital Connectivity Program.
- INDUSTRIAL LAND DEVELOPMENT: $50 million boost to support the development of strategic industrial land precincts to support new growth opportunities, particularly in regional WA.
- TAX REFORMS: all WA businesses will benefit from changes to the quarterly payroll tax-return threshold, delivering cashflow benefits and administrative relief.
ENSURING JOBS AND DIVERSIFIED REGIONAL ECONOMIES
- The State Budget includes targeted initiatives to encourage new industries and stimulate innovation in the regions, support industries in transition, and ensuring ongoing economic activity, including:
- $50 million allocated to the Just Transition Plan to support employees, businesses and communities with the transition from native forestry to softwood plantations.
- $48.6 million allocated toward the Western Australian Regional Digital Connectivity Program, which will leverage Commonwealth and industry co-funding available for the expansion of mobile broadband and other digital connectivity solutions in regional areas.
- $17.7 million to deliver a National Park Tourism Experiences Development Package, which includes funding for accommodation and experiences to increase visitation to WA’s national parks.
- $25 million toward the Western Australian Agricultural Collaboration to future-proof the agricultural sector and spur innovation.
- $12 million for the WA Array Program to accelerate implementation of a passive seismic survey across Western Australia, which will assist with future land-use planning and attract future exploration investment.
- $6 million for the Minerals Research Institute of WA to pursue strategic research opportunities, including clean energy technologies and critical minerals.
- $4.5 million boost to the Local Capability Fund to assist local businesses to increase their capability and competitiveness.
- $21 million boost to destination marketing to support the tourism sector.
- $5 million to the Centre for Decommissioning to support the development of an LNG decommissioning industry in WA
CREATING HEALTHY AND RESILLIENT COMMUNITIES
- The State Budget delivers a range of investments to deliver quality education and training opportunities, thereby supporting the sustainability of regional communities:
- $158.3 million for health initiatives to improve the quality and delivery of healthcare in the regions, including more paramedics and ambulances, and a boost to frontline workers. This also includes $5 million to address critical accommodation shortages to support the attraction and retention of the health workforce.
- $349.2 million will be invested in regional primary and secondary schools over the next four years to ensure the provision of quality schooling. Regional businesses will benefit from $6.6 million of additional investment in 22/23 and 23/24 for critical replacement programs as well as upgrades to security, pool and fire equipment in schools.
- $200 million over four years to deliver vocational education and training, career and employment advice, and TAFE Support services, particularly:
- Ongoing funding for reduced fees for TAFE to build local workforce capability.
- Financial support for employers of apprentices and trainees located in the regions.
- Funding to support the workforce transition program for Collie and South-West.
- Commitment to attract international students to live, work and study in the regions, particularly in key areas: aged and disability care, child care, hospitality and tourism sectors.
- Funding to support under-utilised segments of the labour market, including ex-offenders and the mature aged labour force (45+ years).
- Commitment to build a business case to assess the feasibility of establishing a Western Australian College of Agriculture in the Kimberley.
- The State Budget includes a range of commitments to build sense of place and support community development, including:
- $350 million will be allocated to a new Remote Communities Fund to fund utility services and new and refurbished housing in remote Aboriginal communities.
- $19.1 million to facilitate regional residential land developments in Karratha and Kalgoorlie.
- Keystart’s property price limits will be increased in the Pilbara to assist more households in gaining access to finance.
- Ongoing commitment to regional roads to reduce travel times, improve safety and increase freight efficiency, with new initiatives totalling $737 million. This includes $159 million toward the Regional Road Safety Program to repair, rebuild and provide road safety treatments of country roads.
ONGOING ECONOMIC UNCERTAINTY
- WA businesses are operating in a highly dynamic domestic, national and global environment. Ongoing uncertainty remains surrounding:
- How the COVID-19 pandemic will evolve domestically, nationally and globally (particularly in China).
- Labour and supply-chain disruptions have impacted activity, most notably new dwelling investment. Ongoing shortages have resulted in extended build times and escalating costs, and any further disruptions could result in build times being stretched further.
- Rising inflation, both globally and domestically.
- While the State’s interstate and international borders are now open, there is uncertainty about the pace of recovery in the State’s tourism and international education sectors.
ROYALTIES FOR REGIONS
- State Budget continues to support the $4 Billion Royalties for Regions program.
- $2 Billion is allocated to support the ongoing subsidisation of regional water and electricity subsidies.
- Existing funding priorities remain across the six streams. Minimal change to the distribution of funding, apart from a slight reduction in the ‘communities’ stream.
- Ongoing support for the regions, particularly in new infrastructure and to support new industries and economic development.
- While there is a targeted international student program to address skills shortages across a range of key industries, targeted strategies to address the barriers to increase local female workforce participation are needed (eg: access to childcare)
- While land development programs in Karratha and Kalgoorlie will boost housing supply in the longer term, specific mechanisms to address short-term supply issues are needed to address the shortage of people (skilled and unskilled).