Shadow treasurer Dean Nalder claimed the budget was not transparent either, assuming rosy growth in the housing sector and pushing infrastructure funding beyond the forward estimates.
“This is not a transparent budget and does not include the state’s share of capital funding for major infrastructure promises such as the Ellenbrook rail line, Joondalup Hospital or King Edward Memorial Hospital,” Mr Nalder said.
“Some $3 billion in promised job-creating capital expenditure has been pushed out beyond the forward estimates.»
What about me?
Congratulations on a surplus was the common theme among lobby and advocacy groups on Thursday, but they all still had gripes and the state’s peak public sector union has not ruled out industrial action over wages.
Treasurer Ben Wyatt dug in on the annual $1000 wages increase policy, saying it would remain for the rest of the McGowan Government’s term, angering the Community and Public Sector Union.
Assistant branch secretary Melanie Bray said public sector workers would be disappointed to discover that the policy was still in this budget and industrial action could be on the cards.
«With fees and charges increasing on average of 2 per cent that means the average public sector worker will not be able to keep pace with the cost of living, our members believe this wages policy does not value the important work they do for the community,» she said.
«They will go back to the bargaining table to fight for a better outcome and industrial action can not be ruled out.»
The state government has decided to remove the payroll tax exemption for employees earning up to $100,000 a year from July 1 in a move that will save them $109 million over the next four years and pay for a new apprentice and trainee incentive scheme.
Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA chief executive Chris Rodwell said businesses would benefit from the huge infrastructure spend in the budget but it was a missed opportunity to not touch payroll tax.
«We do however think the state missed a golden opportunity to provide important relief to small businesses, payroll tax is a tax on jobs and the payroll tax burden in WA is greater than anywhere else in the country,» he said.
Master Builders Association WA executive director John Gelavis welcomed the infrastructure spend and boost to Keystart and said it would help fight the devastating impacts still being felt in the industry from the downturn.
“The industry has lost around 15,000 workers during the downturn and a significant number of
building companies have gone under. Many more are clinging to survival,» he said.
“It is important to protect the building industry from devastation or it won’t have the capacity to
build the new homes, roads, hospitals and other infrastructure which will be in demand as the state
returns to better times.
“We are grateful the government has listened to our calls for support and unlocked access to Keystart, raising the income levels for singles and couples by $15,000 and for families by $20,000.»
Opportunities go wanting
WA Council of Social Service chief executive Louise Giolitto said the 2 per cent increase in household charges may seem small but hid huge increases over the past two years.
«This still comes at great cost to those who are on our lowest incomes and the most vulnerable families,» she said.
«There may only be small increases in energy prices however it does not go anywhere near to covering up and repairing the debt of incomes low income households have been carrying from the last two budgets.
«There is also huge missed opportunity in investing in early invervention nd prevention for some of our most vulnerable families in our communities, there is absolutely no investment in that space in this current budget.»
Shelter WA chief executive Michelle Mackenzie said while she recognised some initiatives outlined around supporting precinct planning around Metronet and strata title reform, there was still no sustained investment in WA’s homelessness services.
“Whilst the Keystart initiative is great, something to support the housing needs of the people in the most … distress in our community,» she said.
“Today in WA there are 14,000 people on the social housing waitlist, and tonight they’ll be 9500 people who are homeless. This was a great opportunity to look at their housing needs and an opportunity that wasn’t take up.”
A focus on fixing regional roads and significant investment into projects such as the Thornlie and Cockburn link and the Ellenbrook train station was welcomed by the RAC but they criticised car fee increases.
“Motorists will once again feel the pain of increase in registration fees at around 3 per cent,” he said.
“Year on year motorists are feeling that pain every time they register their car.”
Hamish Hastie is WAtoday’s business reporter.
Hannah Barry is a journalist for WAtoday.