Cook Labor Government needs to use surplus to help struggling Western Australians

The Opposition-Alliance has called on the Cook Labor Government to use some of its $3.7 billion surplus announced in today’s Mid-Year Review to provide meaningful cost of living relief to Western Australians.

“With yet another multi-billion-dollar surplus on the back of high iron ore prices, the Cook Labor Government can’t continue to sit idle when it comes to providing more support to struggling Western Australian households,” Shadow Treasurer Steve Thomas said.

“This latest result is on the back of $17 billion in surpluses in the preceding three years, making it almost $22 billion in surpluses over four years, the biggest fiscal boom in our nation’s history.

“Yet the latest reports from support agencies show more Western Australians are struggling to put food on the table and keep the lights on than ever before.

“While the government has given short-term hits in the form of electricity rebates, it continues to take with the other hand with increased fees and charges.

“With such gifted wealth rolling into the state thanks to the record iron ore prices, it is unconscionable that the Cook Labor Government is not doing more to help those most in need.”

Dr Thomas said the Opposition-Alliance had previously called on the government to provide an extra $300 million to support agencies over the next two years to help those organisations tasked with helping our most vulnerable but the government has ignored those calls.

“The Cook Labor Government easily has the capacity to help these agencies struggling to keep pace with the sharp increase in calls for help,” he said.

“It could also freeze future increases to fees and charges and prioritise the reduction of taxes on employment and housing, particularly through stamp duty and payroll tax to provide meaningful relief.

“Instead, we have consistently seen the Treasurer use the surplus to prop up the multi-billion-dollar cost blowouts in its infrastructure program, including another $700 million for Metronet flagged today, while Western Australians are left waiting years to get their own homes built.

“The Cook Labor Government’s habit of consistently underestimating its revenue and surpluses at budget time is also wearing thin, making it hard to believe the Treasury estimates.

“The 2023-24 budget suggested iron ore would average US$74 this year and US$66 in the forward years, but the real average to date this financial year has been $US117 a tonne, and the price today is nearly US$135 a tonne.

“It appears like they are underestimating returns to top up their infrastructure overspend.”

Dr Thomas said the wealth of the Government was also based on good luck thanks to the iron ore royalties’ boom and was not the result of good financial management.

“Never before has this state seen such wealth, and I doubt it ever will again,” he said.

“This result means that the Cook Labor Government has an even greater capacity to help Western Australian families that are struggling with cost-of-living pressures and should do so immediately.”