Labor spending in question as Treasurer’s Advance blows out to $3.2 billion

The Opposition has raised questions about the Cook Labor Government’s request to extend the Treasurer’s Advance limit to a record $3.2 billion this week.

Opposition Leader Shane Love said it was an extraordinary request with limited justification.

“The Mid-Year Budget Review initially identified a need to increase the Treasurer’s Advance from $909 million to $1.87 billion,” Mr Love said.

“While the Treasurer claimed this was necessary due to additional funds needed to respond to Cyclone Ellie and cost blow-outs to Metronet, no additional advice has been provided to explain the massive leap to $3.2 billon which Parliament is now being asked to agree to.”

Mr Love said the funding represented a massive 250 per cent increase to the original cash advance request identified in the 2023-24 State Budget.

“This is now the third year in a row where the Labor Government has requested an increase to the Treasure’s Advance limit above $1 billion, raising serious questions about their poor cashflow management and failure to keep major projects in check,” he said.

“Cost blowouts to Metronet, the Geraldton Health Campus and the new pedestrian bridge in the Perth CBD clearly demonstrate a State Government which is unable to deliver major projects on time or on budget.”

Mr Love also queried the role of the Treasurer in managing these cost blow-outs.

“WA deserves to understand why this Treasurer come Transport Minister, who not only holds the purse strings but is responsible for the biggest cost blow outs of this Government, yet again needs to dip into the pockets of our taxpayers.”

Mr Love said the credibility of the State Budget had been stretched by the Government’s frequent blowouts.

“Under this Labor Government, you no longer get one budget a year, but two. The Treasurer is abusing the Mid-Year Budget process to spend big without the scrutiny or oversight which Parliament typically applies to the State Budget.”

Shadow Treasurer Neil Thomson said the provision of additional funds in the Treasurer’s Advance was not unusual but queried the provision of an additional $1.3 billion exclusively for what are described by Treasury as ‘further Treasurer’s Advance impacts in 2023-24, including funding requirements that may emerge as part of the 2024-25 Budget and other unforeseen expenditure’.

“It’s fair and reasonable to have a buffer for costs such as natural disaster, but there is clearly more going on here,” Mr Thomson said.

“It’ is completely unacceptable for the Government to request an additional $1.3 billion and not provide any detail on what this is being spent on and raises the question of whether the Treasurer is about to go on a massive spending spree in the next few months.

“The Opposition demands further oversight and detail around how this additional funding will be spent as we are less than a year from the election.”

Increased funding since the 2023-24 State Budget was tabled includes $458 million for Cyclone Ellie recovery, $246 million for Metronet cost increases, and $225 million to address workforce pressures in the health system.