Falling revenues constrain WA Budget

Freight and Intermodal Network Plan looms and truck driver licencing likely to be outsourced

Falling revenues constrain WA Budget
Mike Nahan: challenging fiscal environment


With revenues dwindling, Western Australian Treasurer Mike Nahan has delivered a Budget with some new spending on public transport and little new for road freight.

But the WA Budget papers do point to the imminent finalisation of Freight and Intermodal Network Plan for metropolitan Perth, which will arrive against a backdrop of significant freight and motorist traffic demands on the Reid, Roe and Tonkin highways for access to major industrial areas and the airport.

The plan aims to redefine the strategic road freight network, identify investments to increase capacity in the rail freight network, assess measures to protect freight networks from urban encroachment, and outline medium to long-term plans for port development.

At the same time, the Transport Department is looking to release the Moving People Network Plan and the Public Transport for Perth in 2031 Plan.

Road maintenance resources will rise in the forward estimates from $735 million to $901 million in 2017-18.

Truck-driver licencing may be outsourced at some stage this year, given the trial using existing partner services to deliver heavy combination and heavy rigid practical driving assessments is complete.

The papers underline the importance of regional road freight investment, with investment in the Over Size Over Mass Unit for the heavy haulage industry and planned construction of additional passing lanes assist in reducing transport costs.

Share of containerised freight transported via rail in relation to total metropolitan container movements to and from Fremantle port 13.8 per cent – less than the 16 per cent sought next financial year’s target is 14.5 per cent.

"Western Australia is experiencing a challenging fiscal environment at a time when the economy has passed the investment peak, leading to a production phase which will yield a record level of resource exports," Nahan says.

This year, the state economy is forecast to grow 3.75 per cent, down from 5.1 per cent in 2012-13.

And as business investment continues to moderate, growth in Gross State Product is forecast to ease further to 2.75 per cent in 2014-15.

"This moderation in domestic economic conditions is flowing through to lower employment and wages growth," Nahan says.

"This, in turn, is resulting in weaker growth in taxation collections, particularly payroll tax – the State’s largest tax base."

There will be action for the ports, which face the introduction of a 75 per cent interim dividend arrangement with port authorities the sale of the Kwinana Bulk Terminal and the Utah Point facility at Port Hedland Port under consideration.

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