Treasurer toasts rates increase at Wanneroo business breakfast

Treasurer Ben Wyatt talked about the rates, the economy and infrastructure at the Wanneroo business breakfast. Picture: Chris Kershaw
Treasurer Ben Wyatt talked about the rates, the economy and infrastructure at the Wanneroo business breakfast. Picture: Chris Kershaw

TREASURER Ben Wyatt has praised the City of Wanneroo for its 1.8 per cent rates rise while it caters for a growing population.

In his address as keynote speaker at a business breakfast hosted by the City on August 30, Mr Wyatt said the City’s population growth had been three times the State average since 2001.

“A 1.8 per cent rate increase in a local government that’s growing at the rate you have been growing and has the capital demands that you have is really extraordinary,” he said.

Mr Wyatt talked about the state economy and said there were signs of growth again, which would mean increased revenue.

“We are seeing higher than expected iron ore royalties at the moment,” he said.

“It’s good while it lasts. We intend to ensure that it’s spent well.”

Treasurer Ben Wyatt.

The treasurer also talked about the bigger share of GST coming to WA, its upgraded credit rating and the challenge of paying off interest and debt while investing in infrastructure.

Mr Wyatt said the domestic economy was growing again after contracting for the past five years, and that was important for job creation.

“The private sector is starting to invest in itself again,” he said.

Talking about the importance of people working in the areas they lived, Mr Wyatt acknowledged congestion on the Mitchell Freeway during the morning peak.

“I was delighted to be driving north up the freeway – I’m going to speak long enough to you for that traffic to clear,” he told the audience.

Mr Wyatt also said the downturn in housing prices should improve as a result of low vacancy rates and a higher threshold for first home buyers to get Keystart loans.

Asked about stamp duty exemptions for downsizers, the treasurer said it was being considered.

Mr Wyatt said the government wanted to diversify the economy so it was not as reliant on the mining industry, and so the shift of people to mining jobs did not mean those skill sets were lost from the construction industry, which pushed up building costs.

“I don’t want to lose that skill set to the mining sector that’s employing very rapidly again,” he said.

While he said there had been no wage growth in WA, he expected more jobs to be created over the next couple of years and under-employment to reduce.

Guests at the breakfast, supported by Wanneroo MLA Sabine Winton, also asked for more investment in rail to the Wanneroo town centre, the local tourism industry, direct flights to Ethiopia, small business and waste-to-energy projects as well as intelligent manufacturing and smart farming.

Chief executive Daniel Simms said the breakfast focused on local business and how this year’s State Budget would impact the northern corridor.

Mr Simms said it was exciting to see about $1 billion being invested in the City of Wanneroo in upcoming infrastructure projects.

Mayor Tracey Roberts said there were 13,000 small businesses in the City, and the population of 212,000 people was expected to grow to 400,000 in about 20 years.

Mrs Roberts credited the “army of residents” behind the council and administration with its success in advocating for State and Federal funding for projects such as rail to Yanchep, widening Marmion Avenue and the Mitchell Freeway extension to Romeo Road.

“We can justify why we need the money; we can justify why we need the infrastructure,” she said.

Dennis Simmons.

Dennis Simmons did the Welcome to Country, including playing didgeridoo.

“Out here in the Wanneroo area we have great opportunity because we have a lot of sacred sites (and) good opportunities for tourism,” he said.