State Government increases charges, taxes to address budget repair

Treasurer Ben Wyatt.
Treasurer Ben Wyatt.

THE State Government has revealed a host of new taxes and charges to try and address the shocking state of WA’s finances.

“Every Western Australian will need to share the burden of repairing the State Budget,” a government media release said today.

The changes include:

– An increase of $169 to the fixed charge component of electricity bills, or 10.9 per cent for the ‘representative household’

– A six per cent increase in water, sewerage and drainage charges;

– Changes to public transport fares, which include a 1.8 per cent increase in public transport standard fares (rounded to the nearest 10 cents), student fares increasing to 70 cents (from 60 cents), and a five per cent reduction in the discount offered to SmartRider fares (to 20 per cent for Autoload and 10 per cent for other re-load)

– Vehicle licence charges will increase by 5.5 per cent, an increase of 2.8 per cent for motor injury insurance, and a 1.7 per cent increase for a driver’s licence

– A 3.35 per cent increase in the emergency services levy

The changes form part of the 2017-18 Budget and will take effect from July 1.

The Government has also tried to support those doing it tough and has made reforms to the concessions framework.

It will increase the Energy Assistance Payment (EAP) to $300 in 2017-18 (an increase of $66 or 28 per cent from 2016-17).

This concession is paid annually to about 200,000 households who hold Commonwealth concession cards.

For seniors’ households with Commonwealth concessions cards, the Government will continue to provide the 50 per cent rebates for water service charges capped at $600 and local government rates capped at $750.

There will be a 50 per cent rebate on the underground electricity connection charge.

But as of July 1 households with only a WA Seniors Card will have these rebates capped at $100 each, saving $84 million across the forward estimates.

The changes to the household fees and charges and concessions are expected to improve the State’s net debt position by about $238 million over the forward estimates period.

“Over the last three months, we have embarked on a program of budget repair that is fair,” Treasurer Ben Wyatt.

“The previous government left behind a Budget with increases in household fees and charges, and given the state of finances there is no way the State can afford to stop them.

“We have had to make tough decisions to help get the Budget under control and unfortunately the burden of those decisions need to be shared across the community.

“These changes to household charges have not been taken lightly by this Government, but we have no choice but to fix the mess left behind by the previous Liberal National Government.

“This Government takes the State’s financial challenge very seriously, with the State heading to more than $42 billion in debt by 2020, and an operating deficit of about $3 billion in 2016 17 – all the legacy of the Liberals and Nationals.

“With our GST share at ridiculously low levels and Treasury forecasting a further $2.6 billion revenue write down since we were elected, fixing the mess we inherited will take time.”

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