What's in it for WA?

Missed opportunityOnce the budget celebrations for business cool, WA remains a state needing a fairer GST share.

While business was a winner out of the 2016 Federal Budget, WA has less to be excited about overall, with infrastructure sweeteners falling short of our diminished share of the GST.

CCI Director of Policy Dale Leggett says funding for the Forrestfield Air Link, Perth Freight Link and the Swan Valley bypass road -- $816 million in total – doesn’t fill the potential investment chasm created by a GST share of just 30 per cent.

“Our GST shortfall becomes even more important when you factor in a forecast fall of 25.5 per cent in mining investment this year and 14 per cent the year after,” Leggett says.

“While our share of the GST in this budget is disappointing once again, drilling down into the figures gives us some cause for hope that our percentage will improve over the next few years,” Leggett says.

“This is because while the Federal Government’s forward projections are flatlining at 30 per cent, WA Treasury is correctly forecasting that the reductions in commodities that are occurring will result in a correction and our share of the GST will gradually improve – by how much, it’s impossible to say because there are so many factors to take into account.

“There is inherently a degree of uncertainty and risk going forward, but there is also cause for hope on the GST front for WA.

The Treasurer’s plan to put the nation on a path to much-needed fiscal restraint – the end goal being to reduce the deficit to $6b in four years – is welcome news for all states.

“This is something CCI has called for consistently and was central to the Australian Chamber’s pre-budget submission,” Leggett says.

“Living within our means is critical to laying a foundation for long-term growth instead of settling for small, popular wins in the short term.”

Spending wisely

CCI welcomes the measured increase of $2.9 billion on public hospitals nationally, as well as $1.2 billion to government and non-government schools in 2018-2020.

“WA’s 10-11 per cent share in these figures are commensurate with our population and to be welcomed for these vital areas.

“Importantly, though, the figures are not excessive or beyond our means and, provided public sector operations start to better mimic those of the more efficient private sector, this should be good news for WA families.”

CCI also welcomes the announcement of $67.6 million additional funding in 2016/17 for WA’s National Disability Insurance Scheme trial sites.