WESTERN Australia has missed out on funds for remote housing and the NDIS in the federal budget, leaving Treasurer Ben Wyatt bitterly disappointed.
The 10-year National Partnership Agreement on Remote Housing expires in June.
Mr Wyatt said there had been “a belligerent refusal” to engage with the state government about renewing the agreement for WA, which itself spends $100 million a year on remote housing.
“The commonwealth government has provided some $550 million to the Northern Territory – the other state that has the big demand is of course WA, so that is a huge failure,” Mr Wyatt told reporters.
He said it was the single biggest issue facing regional and remote WA, and transitional funding should at least be provided.
Without adequate housing, Aboriginal people in remote parts of the state wind up with poor health and social problems, and if they move into regional centres where support services for housing are also lacking, they end up in the criminal justice system.
“I’m worried that the Commonwealth government has now adopted a stance around our remote communities that it no longer has a role unless it can be cajoled with a state bucket of money,” Mr Wyatt said
Other states also received funding to help NGOs in the disability services sector transition to the new scheme, but WA didn’t get a cent.
Mr Wyatt said WA had got just over its population share for infrastructure, which was an improvement on recent years, but the state would argue for more.
“So they’ve given with one and taken with the other.
“Overall, it’s a better deal than we got last year.”
The federal budget had few surprises for the state with the Turnbull government revealing its billion-dollar bonanza on roads, rail and hospitals ahead of time.
More than $1 billion for WA’s flagship Metronet rail network is at the centre of the $3.2 billion infrastructure boost confirmed in Tuesday’s budget.
A further $944 million will go towards tackling road congestion – including on the Tonkin Highway – while $560 million has been slated for the Bunbury Outer Ring Road.
The state, as expected, is also to get a GST top-up payment of nearly $189 million with the money to be spent on the Joondalup and Osborne Park hospital expansions and the Royal Perth Hospital refurbishment.
The federal government says with that payment WA’s share of the GST in 2018/19 will effectively rise to 50 cents in the dollar.
WHAT’S IN THE BUDGET FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA:
* $1.05 billion for the Metronet rail project
* $944 million for a Perth congestion package including $581 million for the Tonkin Highway
* $560 million for the Bunbury Outer Ring Road
* $220 million for the Great Northern Highway Bindoon bypass
* GST top-up payment of $188.9 million including $158 million for the Joondalup Hospital expansion, $20.3 million for the Royal Perth Hospital refurbishment and $10.6 million for the Osborne Park hospital expansion