WA Budget winners and losers

WALGA president Troy Pickard.
WALGA president Troy Pickard.

Roe Highway extension

‘Without a doubt the significance of the Roe Highway extension is critical for the south metro region and I believe we have made our case as best we can,’ he said.

‘Personally I have been working with key community members on this important issue for over 15 years and on behalf of the City of Melville have been lobbying parliamentarians, Main Roads and the Department of Transport for no less than a decade.

‘It is my understanding the current Government has been working hard to explore this issue and understand how best to solve the future problems of congestion, pollution, safety, freight access and maintain lifestyle for the residents of the South Metro region.

‘After many years, I am excited at the prospect of an announcement from Federal Government that will finally ensure the construction of the Roe Highway extension; which needs to happen now, and in doing so will also fulfil my election commitment to the community of Melville.’

However, protestors against the Roe Highway extension claimed victory last Thursday, with Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren congratulating community campaigners for successfully deterring State funding for the highway for another year.

‘Were it not for the continuing strong community opposition and campaigning, I am certain there would be bulldozers warming their engines to tear through the wetlands already,’ she said.

‘Bit by bit campaigners have managed to hold back the tide on the government senselessly paving 5km of road through rare WA wetlands.’

Fiona Stanley Hospital

‘The completion of the Fiona Stanley Hospital forms part of the Government’s $7 billion, 10-year capital works program that will deliver world-class healthcare closer to where West Australians live,’ the Treasurer said.

Australian Medical Association AMA (WA) President Richard Choong welcomed the Budget’s 5.9 per cent rise in health spending.

‘We understand how hard it was to find additional funding for health and we had been expecting to see a cut. We are happy to see the increase in the total State health budget to more than over $8 billion,’ Dr Choong said.

‘This is historically the highest level ever and reflects both a huge increase in infrastructure spending as well as additional money for running costs.’

But workers’ union United Voice WA Secretary, Carolyn Smith said the Government would have to spend an extra $40 million on information technology for the hospital and continue to pay non-clinical contractor Serco for running the empty hospital.

‘Even though the health budget has increased, the debacle of Serco and Fiona Stanley Hospital means other WA hospitals are being forced to cut operating costs by 8 per cent,’ she said.

‘It costs the community $250,000 a day, yet we are seeing 212 beds closed from Royal Perth and the shutdown of the entire emergency department at Fremantle Hospital.’

Local Government reform

He said ratepayers in the new merged local governments would pay higher rates to pay State Government loans funding the changes.

The Budget allocated $45 million in loans, with interest subsidised by 2 per cent by the Government and $5 million grants for three years, to halve Perth’s 30 councils.

Subsidising the loans is expected to cost $2.2 million in a stressed Budget that targeted voters’ utility costs, transport charges and housing buying feesand not the sale of State assets that were mooted to contribute to reducing WA’s debt, expected to be $27.5 billion in 2016-17.

WALGA estimates council mergers across Perth in 2014-15 will cost $45-50 million, while Queensland spent up to $200 million during its changes.