The Opposition-Alliance has renewed calls for the Cook Labor Government to urgently provide a $300 million funding boost to charities following a new report showing almost 400,000 Western Australian households are going hungry amid cost-of-living pressures.
The Alliance has been urging the government since the start of the year to use some of its surpluses to support charities filling the gap, but the Cook Labor Government continues to turn a blind eye.
“It is unconscionable that in a State that has recorded $17 billion in surpluses over the past three years, we have more Western Australian families than ever skipping meals or going days without eating,” Shadow Treasurer Steve Thomas said.
The latest Foodbank Hunger Report 2023 revealed 388,000 WA households experienced food insecurity last year, up by 26 per cent or 80,000 households in the last year.
The report stated cost of living was to blame for food insecurity in 85 per cent of affected WA households.
“This is a whole new demographic of working poor that are now seeking help with more than half of those accessing food relief services in paid employment,” Dr Thomas said.
“At the same time, the Cook Labor Government has hit Western Australians with an extra $154 in fees and charges this year, with an additional $513 in fees forecast over the next three years.
“On the back of record iron ore royalties and the GST floor, implemented by the former Federal Liberal-National Government, the Premier could easily afford to share some of the State’s wealth to help charities being forced to fill the ever-increasing need.
“We are again calling for a $150 million boost for each of the next two years to help our critical support services provide targeted relief to the overwhelming number of West Australians struggling to keep food on the table. It’s the very least this government can and should do.”
Opposition Leader Shane Love said as the wealthiest State in the nation, it defied belief that the Cook Labor Government was not spending some its much-touted surpluses to help West Australians make ends meet.
“No child should go hungry in a State as rich as Western Australia. This is an easy and affordable solution to provide urgent and targeted support to those charities doing the heavy lifting,” Mr Love said.
“During this cost-of-living crisis, I call on Premier Roger Cook to focus his attention on the people of this State. Charities provide remarkable help on the ground and should be one of this Premier’s priorities, not another overseas trip or an embassy in Canberra.”
WA Liberal Leader Libby Mettam said Foodbank was just one charity reporting the significant spike in demand with charities across the board reporting unprecedented calls for help.
“Charities are often the first port of call for the most vulnerable in our society and are under incredible pressure to meet the shortfall in government services,” Ms Mettam said.
“It is astounding that in a State as wealthy as WA, an ever-increasing number of households, many with children, are being forced to choose between paying their mortgage or putting food on the table.”