A long-term plan to support regional economic development has featured as part of the Opposition’s response to the State Budget, with Leader Mia Davies saying the Government had dropped the ball on releasing land and underpinning development.
Announcing a Regional Headworks Investment Fund in her Budget Reply speech in Parliament, Opposition Leader Mia Davies detailed the plan to invest $1 billion over ten years to unlock development in the regions.
“The high cost of delivering water, power, and sewerage connections is a constraint on development in regional WA,” Ms Davies said.
“Our plan will allow local government authorities and the private sector to access funds to address these constraints.”
Ms Davies said reducing the cost of utility connections would not only unlock the potential of commercial and industrial land but encourage the release of residential land and housing developments.
“This is a responsible, common-sense investment strategy to unlock projects that will address housing constraints and assist in supporting businesses that will diversify our State’s economy,” Ms Davies said.
“Rather than allocate funds to specific projects like the Regional Headworks Investment Fund and take a long-term view of development, the Premier decided to squirrel away money into Special Purpose Accounts that will no doubt be used to buy votes ahead of the 2025 State Election.
“The reason they do it is simple – dumping funds into Special Purpose Accounts is an accounting trick to make the budget surplus appear smaller.
“The Premier is hiding the fact the surplus is in fact much bigger, and that’s shocking when you consider the challenges we face in the health and housing sectors.”
Ms Davies said with a $5.7 billion surplus, the McGowan Labor Government had missed the opportunity to take a long-term view on development.
“The Premier has so far showed he is capable of banking a surplus on the back of extraordinary mineral royalties and increased GST grants, but he has failed to set the State up for the future.
“At a time when the economy has the opportunity to diversify, grow and decentralise, this Government has chosen inaction.
“The Regional Headworks Investment Fund won’t undo Labor’s five years of neglect, but it will promote much-needed investment and development for WA’s strong regional future.”