Few sweeteners in State Budget

The forward estimates allow for a new senior high school in north Butler.

AT first glance there do not appear to be many sweeteners offered to Yanchep and Gingin residents in the Barnett Government’s pre-election Budget.

WA voters will go to the polls in March next year.

The State Budget presented by Treasurer Mike Nahan on Thursday, May 12 included $1.5 million in 2016-17 for the maintenance of pines that are part of the endangered Carnaby’s cockatoo habitat and food source.

The Budget also included $67m over the forward estimates for a new north Butler senior high school.

The Western Australian Caravan and Camping Action Plan will also get some money from a boost of $268m over four years for regional tourism infrastructure.

Dr Nahan said the Government would also invest $20m of Royalties for Regions in the WA Open for Business project to help the agriculture and food sectors increase trade and investment activities in the regions.

Premier Colin Barnett said the government would invest an extra $30m over four years to secure major events within the state.

Another $16.9m over four years would go to Tourism WA for destination marketing.

Regional Development Minister Terry Redman said Royalties for Regions would provide an extra $50m for new programs under the Seizing the Opportunity Agriculture initiative.

Education Minister Peter Collier announced $4.84 billion would be spent on primary and secondary public school education for the 2016-17 financial year – an increase of $81 million from last year.

Dr Nahan said the government was continuing to invest in technology, pastoral care, early childhood and school reform.

He said more than $7.5m in dedicated funding would increase the quality and availability of science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs.

“In 2017 and 2018, the State Government will spend a further $10.48m to provide access to school chaplains for every student,” he said.

“Schools will also receive about $20.5m in 2017 to meet the Western Australian Certificate of Education requirements for industry-ready vocational education and training qualifications.”

Mr Collier said funding of $6.47 million over four years would allow up to 50 more schools to benefit from the greater autonomy of being an independent public school.

“We are also helping three-year-old Aboriginal children get the best start in life by allocating $8.7m over three years to the ground-breaking KindiLink program at 37 public schools.’’

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said future generations of Western Australians would now face the burden of a record deficit approaching $4 billion and record debt breaking through $40 billion.

Opposition Planning and Transport spokeswoman Rita Saffioti said there was no commitment in the Budget to fund the Wanneroo Rd and Joondalup Dr overpass or the Wanneroo Rd and Ocean Reef Dr overpass.

Opposition Treasury spokesman Ben Wyatt said as well as failing to diversify the economy and ensure that after the energy and commodity boom WA was ready for the next phase of economic growth the government had adopted policy measures, which had slowed the economy even further.

He criticised the government for increasing land taxes three times in two years in an environment of increasing rental and commercial vacancies, increasing unemployment and falling property values.