The McGowan Government’s need to extend the Treasurer’s Advance limit by $2.1 billion demonstrates that during the biggest fiscal boom in this, or any other state’s history, Labor cannot properly manage its cashflow, according to Shadow Treasurer Steve Thomas.
“Increases in Treasurer’s advances are not unusual, but to increase it from $900m to $3.1 billion in the biggest boom we have ever seen simply means the huge mountains of cash raining into the government coffers are not well managed,” Dr Thomas said.
“It’s extraordinary that the Premier is in part blaming his wages policy for the need for a higher contingency fund when his policy has been to oppose the rises demanded by nurses, police and a range of other public servants.
“He has told us he has maintained a strong wages policy, but now he is telling us that same policy is a part of the blowouts.
“If he wasn’t financially prepared for his own policy, whose fault is that?”
Dr Thomas said the biggest problem in the Premier’s statement was where he said the Treasurer’s Advance was impacted by “the allocation of funding to agencies from the Asset Investment Program cost escalation provision”.
“Trying to spend $9 billion a year on infrastructure has driven up costs for both Government and the private sector, thanks largely to shortages of labour and materials,” Dr Thomas said.
“This has seen blowouts both in Government projects and private sector construction.”
Dr Thomas said while previous governments, including conservative ones, have increased the Treasury Advance to manage the state, none has done so with a money bin full of cash they cannot spend.
Liberal Leader Libby Mettam said it beggared belief that a Treasurer that continually boasts about his economic credentials has had to increase his cash advance by 217% to manage cashflow.
Ms Mettam also questioned why the government continues to throw more money at its pet transport infrastructure project regardless of the cost, while other projects and programs struggle for relevance.
“Clear and accurate financial management and reporting is critical for the Western Australia public to have confidence in the decisions of Government,” Ms Mettam said.
“The fact that the government is giving themselves a $500 million buffer for unforeseen expenditure over the next six months also raises red flags.
“For a government that consistently talks about good financial management, it is concerning that such a large amount of money has not been allocated and can be thrown at projects by the Premier with no oversight from Parliament.