Mid Year Budget Review sees return of the debt monster

Opposition Leader Shane Love has criticised the State Government for downplaying rising net debt, with WA on track to reach record high debt levels surpassing $38 billion by 2027.

Mr Love said while net debt has seen a temporary reduction in the Mid Year Budget Review, the forecast for 2027 would see a further $2.1 billion added to the bottom line for WA taxpayers.

“While the Treasurer is patting herself on the back for a temporary alleviation, the Labor Government’s inability to deliver projects on time or on budget has put WA on track to record the highest net debt levels ever,” Mr Love said.

“By 2026, net debt under WA Labor will be higher than it was when they formed Government in 2017, suggesting an abject failure to appropriately utilise the financial windfall they have been granted in recent years due to high iron-ore prices and regular GST returns.

“At a time when this Government has significant surpluses, now is the time to improve WA’s long-term financial stability.”

According to the Mid Year Budget Review, public transport spending will blow-out by a further $900 million, with “updated project costs” for Metronet accounting for more than $700 million in increases alongside a $181 million overrun for the Bayswater train station.

A further $10.4 million will be used to make Perth public transport free for the next five weeks, while steep transport costs for regional residents were ignored.

“The 400,000 West Australians living outside of Perth and Peel without local access to public transport will see little-to-no benefit from this city-centric cash splash.”

Mr Love said it was disappointing that the Budget Review offered little relief for WA residents challenged by housing, health and a cost-of-living crises.

“While the Government is crowing about another successive multi-billion-dollar surplus, net debt continues to rise, the Transport Minister continues to bankroll the debt monster spawned by cost overruns and poor project management, and WA residents are doing it tougher than ever.

“The Opposition has called for increased funding and support for charitable organisations such as Anglicare and Foodbank to help them address the massive increase in demand for their services, yet this is being ignored by a Government swimming in cash,” he said.

“The Country Age Pension Fuel card has also remained stagnant since 2016, despite fuel prices skyrocketing, making it harder than ever for older residents to access essential services, get their shopping done, or stay connected to friends and family.”

Mr Love said the Mid Year Budget Review also left many regional projects neglected.

“We have seen no action on delivering long-promised new hospitals for Laverton or Mullewa, no commitment to establish a radiation oncology centre in Geraldton, and no new funding to expand the rescue helicopter fleet beyond Perth and the South West,” Mr Love said.

“Any region of WA can point to a long list of broken promises and delayed projects, proving yet again that regional WA will always be an afterthought for a city-centric Cook Labor Government.”