WA Budget allocates $1.2bn to roads

WA to spend $1.2bn on roads in 2010-11, but business will be hit with higher tariffs

May 21, 2010

The Western Australian Government will spend more than $1 billion on roads next financial year under its Budget announced yesterday.

Transport Minister Simon O’Brien says the Government will focus on upgrading metropolitan and regional road black spots.

He says $220 million over the next four years will go toward the Safer Roads and State Black Spot programs.

"In addition, in 2010-11 the Government will provide funding of $136 million directly to local governments to undertake construction and maintenance on their own roads, up from $123 million in 2009-10," O’Brien says.

The Budget allocates $14 million to upgrading the Coalfields Highway and $47.7 million to the Reid Highway and Alexander Drive interchange.

O’Brien says $112.6 million will be spent on the Roe and Great Eastern highways and another $111.6 million on duplicating the Dampier Highway.

He says 58 percent of the funds will be spent on country roads, while the Perth metropolitan area will receive 42 percent.

The WA and federal governments have also committed $339 million each to the Oakajee port and rail project as part of the development of a new iron ore region in the State’s mid west.

Premier and Treasurer Colin Barnett says business investment is forecast to rise 11.5 percent next financial year and 12.25 percent the following year.

The growth is attributed to mining and petroleum projects, but Barnett says the figures were finalised before the Rudd Government announced a resources profit tax on mining.

"The prospect of this new tax on businesses large and small has already impacted the outlook for Western Australia’s growth and will inevitably impact jobs growth," Barnett says.

He says 6,700 small businesses will receive a share of a $100 million payroll tax rebate.

However, electricity tariffs will increase by 10 percent from July 1, on top of a 7.5 percent rise in April this year.

However, Barnett says the Government is mindful of the impact the rises will have.

"To offset the rises we have significantly increased payments from the Hardship Utilities Grant Scheme," he says.

Water tariffs will also increase to promote conservation, but Barnett has ruled out putting up driver licence fees and compulsory third party insurance.

Despite other states such as Queensland and NSW running deficits, Barnett announced a $290 million surplus this financial year and a projected $286 million surplus for 2010-11.

"In spite of the uncertain economic times, I am pleased to announce the State Government has achieved budget surpluses in the current year and across the forward estimate," he says.

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