The Shadow Treasurer Dr Steve Thomas says the Premier’s attempts to hose down fiscal expectation and maintain his scare campaign on an impending downturn has again been undermined by the latest economic figures released by Treasury on Friday.
“The latest Quarterly Financial Results Report show that the Government is maintaining a massive surplus despite the best attempts of the Government to hide it” Dr Thomas said.
“It’s another year of an embarrassment of riches for Mark McGowan, which is no doubt why he snuck the results out at 3.30 on a Friday afternoon to try to avoid coverage.”
“We have previously seen two $6 billion surpluses in a row, but Mr McGowan predicted a miserly $1.6 billion surplus for this the 2022-23 financial year in his last full budget in May last year.”
“In his Mid-year Review in December he had to raise that prediction to $1.8 billion.”
“The truth is now out however, because the latest report released yesterday shows a net Government Sector operating surplus of $2.5 billion for the first six months of this financial year alone.”
“I have previously suggested a $4 billion budget surplus, and I think that is looking likely” Dr Thomas said.
“This is due to a resilient iron ore price, which Mark McGowan predicted would drop to average US$77.50 a tonne this financial year. Instead, it has stayed above US$100, and is US$125 today.”
“Iron ore royalty revenue is lower than last year, but still at boom levels. It is just a slightly smaller boom.”
Dr Thomas said that once again state taxes were up, continuing a long trend under Mark McGowan as Treasurer.
“State tax revenue was up half a billion dollars on last year, with $300 million of that increase coming from payroll tax alone” Dr Thomas said.
“The Premier continues to get rich off the backs of WA businesses.”
“The Premier’s money bin continues to bulge and overflow, and he continues to play Scrooge McDuck instead of providing the services needed by the people of this state.”
Dr Thomas said the latest figures again highlighted the Premier’s ability to assist West Australians struggling with rising cost of living.
“I expect at least two more official interest rate rises, pushing more struggling homeowners to the brink, and Mark McGowan has more capacity than anywhere else to assist.”
“I am demanding additional but better targeted assistance in this year’s May budget, and the latest figures show that Mr McGowan can plainly afford it.”
“Of course, the best contribution he could make would be to reduce the taxes and charges he imposes on struggling West Australian families and businesses.”
Dr Thomas also said that the Government’s struggle with infrastructure through the Asset Investment Program was also highlighted in the report.
The Government has budgeted $9 billion in asset investment for three straight years, but halfway through year one it has fallen behind its massive target.
“The Quarterly Financial Results Report shows the Government managed to spend $4 billion on asset investment in the first six months, so it is already well behind its ambitious goal.”
“This is due to a lack of workers and shortage of materials, which is also impacting on the private sector, including everyone trying to build their own home.”
“Hopeful homeowners are in direct competition with the Government for labour and materials, and everyone, including the Government, is seeing blowouts in timeframes and costs as a result.”
“The Premier’s inability to properly cashflow major projects is hurting everyone, including his own Government. He is driving up costs across the board.”