THE McGowan Government will invest $850,000 over two years towards identifying and developing food precincts in outer metropolitan Perth, including at Carabooda.
Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the government knew agriculture had enormous potential to diversify regional economies, create local jobs across the state and drive real economic benefits for WA.
Ms MacTiernan said the 2018-19 Budget delivered on the government’s commitment to developing agriculture in WA.
“The Myalup primary industry reserve provides the opportunity for the expansion of our agricultural production in south-western WA, and our investment in outer metropolitan food precincts will help secure new opportunities in areas like Carabooda,’’ she said.
“We are putting research and development back at the heart of the state’s agricultural endeavour, acknowledging that our growers need to stay ahead of the game to compete with interstate and international markets.”
She said the State Budget also included funding for important community initiatives and facilities and investment to better protect the environment and make roads safer.
More than $2 billion will be spent on the State’s regional roads between 2018-19 and 2021-22, including $20 million on upgrades to Indian Ocean Drive.
Premier Mark McGowan said creating jobs was his number one priority and that about 30,000 additional Western Australians had secured employment since March last year and the 2018-19 State Budget had a strong focus on making sure the trend continued.
“Metronet will deliver thousands of new construction jobs, but the increased demand for new railcars will create a pipeline of work to boost our local manufacturing industry and maximise WA jobs,’’ he said.
“This Budget highlights our commitment to help continue the economic recovery, which will see business confidence grow and more jobs created.”
Treasurer Ben Wyatt said the economy was turning the corner and the government would continue to invest in job-creating infrastructure to create more opportunities for Western Australians.
“After contracting for the first time on record in 2016-17, the State’s economy rebounded in 2017-18 and is expected to continue to grow in 2018-19.’’
But the state Opposition said despite receiving a massive windfall from the Turnbull Government the McGowan Government would still burden every WA household with more than $2900 in additional fees and charges during its term of government while making significant cuts to frontline services, including health and police.
Opposition Treasury spokesman Dean Nalder said the budget contained no plan to reduce growth in debt other than pushing costs out beyond forward estimates, relying on handouts from the federal government and optimistic predictions for the future of the WA economy.
“As well as cutting services, this government is shamelessly increasing the profit it pulls from entities such as the Water Corporation while asking families to pay more for their water at a time when a record number of households are experiencing hardship,’’ he said.
“Water Corporation alone will pay close to $1 billion in tax and dividends in 2018-19, and $4.4b over four years – this is coming from the pockets of households already struggling with increased fees and charges.
“Increases in government fees and charges at 13 times the rate of inflation are not going to be easily absorbed by the one million Western Australian households that are in mortgage stress at the moment.
“The introduction of a new foreign property investment surcharge, risks further suppressing house prices in WA, which will be a bitter blow for the 71,000 WA households with zero or negative equity in their home.”
Opposition leader Mike Nahan said much of the government’s expenditure had been pushed out beyond the forward estimates.
“There is still no plan for debt, no plan for jobs and no plan for families in this budget,’’ he said.
“The McGowan Government has banked the funding provided by the Commonwealth Government, but have provided required matched funding from the state.
“This means that while they are claiming there will be a surplus by the end of the forward estimates, and debt peaking at $40.9 billion, there are questions around the infrastructure spend this government has committed the state to but not yet included in the Budget.”