On the back of a 5.7 billion dollar operating surplus, the 2022 WA State Budget is a cash splash across a range of sectors.
Here’s the key information on the subjects that are important to you:
$400 electricity subsidy
The 2022 State Budget will include a cost-of-living supplement with a $400 electricity credit for every WA household. This builds on the $600 credit delivered in 2021. This credit will cost the budget around $445 million and aims to relieve cost of living pressures for Western Australians.
There will be a total of $2.5 billion invested into health and mental health, including a $1.6 billion COVID-19 response and recovery package. The most anticipated part of the investment is the $630 million in additional hospital services spending, including a $252 million Emergency Department Reform Package.
The government hopes this will address emergency department pressures and help to curb ambulance ramping, after Western Australia experienced its worst ambulance ramping figures in history in 2021.
A $6 billion investment into the planned Metronet system includes the opening of the Forrestfield-Airport Link, as well as new stations at Perth Airport, Redcliffe and High Wycombe. The Metronet investment will also seek to upgrade many existing train stations such as Midland, Mandurah and Lakelands.
The government also hopes a planned $9 billion investment into road upgrades and expansions, particularly $290 million for Thomas Road and $100 million for Tonkin Highway extensions, will ease congestion.
$595 million will be invested in new and upgraded school facilities in 2022-2023. $54.6 million is set aside to improve support for students with disabilities and additional learning needs.
$42.5 million will be devoted for COVID-19 measures in schools, as well as a $41.6 million package to support the return of international students to WA.
The McGowan government will be putting aside $500 million for its Climate Action Fund, as well as a $62 million commitment to have Rottnest Island 75 per cent powered by renewables. The government is also spending $36 million on rebates for electric vehicle owners. This also comes off the back of a planned expansion of the WA electric car charging grid, as well as a plan to tax electric vehicle owners per kilometre in order to pay for road maintenance and upgrades.
WA branch of the Australian Electric Vehicle Association Chris Jones president says the expansion of the charging network is a welcome investment to encourage EV use.
“We’re very pleased and we like what we see… it’s good to see additional funding being put towards more charging infrastructure in the regions,” he says.
Mr Jones says while the $3500 subsidy might sound good on paper, EV vehicle producers will inflate their prices to accommodate the government’s rebate.
“I think that the subsidy might push a few people over the line to buy an EV, but honestly I think that the subsidy will be eaten up by price rises in the EV market,” he says.
“I think we’d like that sum of money spent on more charging infrastructure, or buying more government fleet as EVs.
“I think that would do more for EV uptake than these subsidies.”
Mr Jones says while EV owners aren’t against paying towards road maintenance, the government shouldn’t be looking to penalise EV owners.
“We feel if there is a genuine road user charge for the upkeep of all roads, then all road users should pay it,” he says.
“It also should be multiplied by the mass of the vehicle, as expenditure we put into roads in order to accommodate the very wear and tear caused by very heavy vehicles means that we are effectively subsidising those vehicles.”
Is the budget doing enough to help with the cost of living?
Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute director Steven Rowley says despite the cash splash, households will continue to struggle with cost of living pressures for some time.
“It’s very difficult to see how cost of living pressures will ease…. people are going to have to work their way through it,” Professor Rowley says.
He says the state government should be doing more to help those who are falling behind among the rising costs of rent, fuel, and groceries.
“The budget will be mostly about reducing debt. There are major issues in the private rental market, so I’d like to see some sort of ongoing commitment to try and aid households in those areas,” he says.
“I can’t see the government doing much besides a one-off token.”