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Relief from the rising cost of living is the main focus of Western Australian Premier and Treasurer Mark McGowan‘s state budget, which has delivered a near-record $5.7 billion surplus.

It is the second straight year in the black for McGowan as treasurer, and a surplus that will likely make the rest of the country green with envy.

“Some of them will look like they swallowed a bumblebee,” McGowan said.

WA Premier Mark McGowan has handed down the state’s budget. (Peter de Kruijff)

The large surplus is predominately fuelled by $10.3 billion in royalties from iron ore.

But with the price of the red dirt expected to halve, the state has forecast its surplus will likely fall to $1.6 billion next year.

McGowan promised a bright outlook for Western Australians.

“A budget that helps families through the challenges of today and sets up WA for tomorrow, for a bright future beyond the pandemic,” McGowan said.

“At the time of real pressure at the bowser and checkout, my WA government is delivering real relief to West Australians right across the state.”

From July, every household in the state will receive a $400 credit on their power bill aimed at countering the 2.5 per cent rise in electricity and water charges.

As winter approaches and the risk from the flu and coronavirus remains high, $1.6 billion has been set aside to manage COVID-19.

The budget is also focused on repairing WA’s strained health system, particularly the ambulance ramping crisis, with $2.5 billion pledged to help fix ramping and pay for more beds, doctors and equipment.

Western Australian households will receive a $400 credit on their power bill to help counter rising electricity and water prices. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Dr Mark Duncan-Smith from the Australian Medical Association said the budget didn’t provide any long-term solutions to the crisis.

“I’m not seeing any long-term goals in this budget which would solve ramping problems,” he said.

When it comes to the workforce, the state’s unemployment rate sits at 3.4 per cent, with the strong domestic market resulting in higher stamp duty and payroll tax revenue.

The McGowan government has set aside additional money to help fund $4.4 billion worth of infrastructure investments, which is a 41 per cent increase on mid-year estimates.

Projects continue to blow out due to COVID-19 related costs.

But unions are not happy that McGowan has stuck to his wages policy of a 2.5 per cent increase plus bonuses.

The Australian Medical Association says Western Australia's already stressed health system will continue to be in danger of being overrun over the next week.
The budget is also pledging $2.5 billion to help fix ramping and pay for more beds, doctors and equipment. (Getty)

“Public sector workers under this policy this year will go backwards by nearly 5 per cent in their wages,” Unions WA Secretary Owen Whittle said.

Kevin Sneddon from the United Workers Union says “this budget is a kick in the guts for West Australian workers”.

For the third year in a row the state’s debt is also down and is back under $30 billion.

An increase in debt is projected for next year to almost $34 billion at the end of forward estimates.

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