THE top two items on the new WA Labor government’s federal budget wishlist are cold, hard cash to compensate for getting the lowest share of GST and funding for its new $2.53 billion Metronet rail network.
The state will get the GST money, WA Liberal Senator Mathias Cormann said last weekend, although the $226 million towards infrastructure is less than the near $500 million it got in each of the last two years.
The contentious GST distribution issue will be the subject of a new Productivity Commission inquiry.
WA’s share will languish at 34 cents for every dollar raised this year compared to about or above the 100 cent mark for the rest of the country, with Victoria and NSW around 90 cents.
Less likely is WA getting money for Labor’s flagship election promise Metronet.
Under Labor’s funding model, Metronet needs $416 million that the commonwealth had pledged to the previous Liberal National government’s Perth Freight Link road project that has now been dumped.
WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt says the party’s election win gives it a mandate from the people to go ahead with the rail project, but the federal coalition won’t simply reallocate the funds.
“I am … very keen to see confirmed the state government mandate to redirect the commonwealth contribution to Perth Freight Link to the new Labor government’s priorities,” Mr Wyatt said.
Premier Mark McGowan said this week he wants to see “a better deal for Western Australia” out of the federal budget.
“Transport infrastructure would be highly important for our state and making sure we can cope with these burgeoning outer growth corridors, and we would seek support from the commonwealth in relation to those things,” he told reporters.
Mr Wyatt said the state government was also concerned that several commonwealth funding streams worth nearly $1 billion were due to expire soon, with no certainty of funding beyond their expiry.
“This lack of certainty represents a risk to the continuity of service delivery to the community and makes investment and employment decisions for third-party service providers more difficult,” he said.
WA GOVERNMENT’S KEY FEDERAL BUDGET WISHLIST
* A GST top-up grant of $226 million
* Funding for Metronet, redirected from Perth Freight Link
* Funding to continue the Students First education, remote indigenous housing, skills reform, universal access to early childhood education and homelessness programs.