The McGowan Labor Government is setting the Great Southern up for the long-term – diversifying the economy and creating jobs, boosting regional health and mental health investment, and providing important cost-of-living relief for local households.
The 2022-23 State Budget includes a record $12 billion investment in regional infrastructure – only eight per cent of which is being delivered through Royalties for Regions.
Royalties for Regions expenditure is more than $4.2 billion over the next four years, and includes $263 million in regional election commitments and other new initiatives.
Western Australia’s strong financial position also gives the State Government the capacity to boost regional health and mental health investment by $158.3 million – in addition to $1.6 billion of State-wide COVID-19 response and recovery measures, including free RATs for regional communities.
Cost of living support includes the $400 Household Electricity Credit for WA households across the State, which will see household fees and charges decline by 3.8 per cent – the third consecutive year fees and charges have been kept below projected inflation.
More than $2 billion will be invested to keep regional water and electricity costs in line with what metropolitan users pay.
A total of $541.3 million will be invested to continue to fund regional school bus services around the State, with $48.6 million to establish the Regional Digital Connectivity Program to improve mobile and internet coverage in the country.
About $1.5 billion per year will be invested to provide regional students with access to quality education – including $349.2 million for refurbishments, upgrades and new builds at country primary and secondary schools over the next four years.
Regional WA TAFEs will share in around $200 million a year for vocational education and training, career and employment advice, and TAFE support services.
To keep the community safe, more than $410 million a year will be invested in WA Police’s regional districts.
The McGowan Government’s Australian-first cap on regional airfares begins on July 1, delivering on a significant election commitment to make airfares more affordable for people in the regions.
The cap means Great Southern residents will pay no more than $199 each way for flights to and from Perth to Albany, when booked as a return flight.
The 2022-23 Budget will continue the McGowan Government’s efforts to diversify the Great Southern economy, create local jobs and support tourism, and includes:
- Additional $30 million for the Native Forestry Just Transition Plan to support the transition from native timber, bringing the total support to $80 million;
- $4.2 million research and development funding for Katanning Research Station;
- $4.6 million for maintenance works on the Tree Top Walk in Walpole;
- Bringing regional road maintenance jobs in-house to Main Roads, securing 490 ongoing jobs in regional WA;
- $21.1 million boost to Tourism WA’s Destination Marketing to encourage tourists to come to WA and travel across the State;
- $17.7 million to Tourism WA to develop new tourism experiences in national parks;
- Additional $80 million to the Investment Attraction Fund to attract new industries and economic diversification across the State, bringing the total to $180 million;
- Additional $50 million to the Industrial Land Development Fund, to develop industrial ready land across the State, bringing the total to $100 million;
- $25 million for the Western Australia Agricultural Collaboration to grow agriculture research and development in WA;
- $12 million for the WA-Array seismic survey to unlock new mineral deposits and job-creating opportunities around the State; and
- $4.5 million boost to the Local Capability Fund to assist local businesses to increase their capability and competitiveness.
The McGowan Government’s significant investment in regional health and mental health continues, with:
- $13 million to build and operate a new Albany General Dental Clinic;
- $30.1 million for 18 additional paramedics and six ambulances across regional WA, delivering on a key election commitment;
- $11 million to ensure there is a nurse 24/7 at emergency departments, including in the Great Southern;
- $18.5 million to expand Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services across regional WA;
- $5.1 million to continue the Mental Health Emergency Telehealth Service to ensure regional residents can continue to access mental health services;
- $5 million for upgrades to health staff accommodation in regional WA, including the Great Southern; and
- $6.1 million funding boost to the Preventing Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder project.
The State Budget also includes important investment in education and training for young people in the Great Southern, including:
- $113.1 million of fee reductions will be achieved in regional WA through the successful Lower fees, local skills initiative;
- $2.4 million to attract international students to live in regional WA, addressing skills needs in aged care, disability services, childcare, hospitality and tourism;
- $4.5 million for a new tool rebate to support building and construction apprentices and trainees in their purchase of trade-related tools and safety equipment; and
- $42.5 million for State-wide COVID-19 measures in schools.
The 2022-23 State Budget brings continued investment in regional roads and transport projects, including:
- Continued funding to deliver the $175 million Albany Ring Road;
- An additional $159 million to the Regional Road Safety Program, bringing the total cost of the program to $828 million. This program has already delivered upgraded shoulders and installed audible edges to more than 367 kilometres of Great Southern roads;
- $36 million Mid West and Great Southern Secondary Freight Network Program;
- $146 million for the Safer Roads and Bridges Program in regional WA;
- Around $200 million for the Resealing Program in regional WA;
- Almost $60 million for the Clean Energy Car Fund; and
- $1.5 million to expand the Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) taxi service grant scheme, including a new Regional WAV Taxi Service Grant Scheme to expand taxi services to people of all abilities in regional WA.
The 2022-23 State Budget will ensure Great Southern communities are kept safe and strong, with important investments in:
- $11 million for a Large Air Tanker to be permanently based in regional WA during bushfire season for the first time;
- $15.9 million upgrade to the Emergency WA website;
- $3.9 million to upgrade the Direct Brigade Alarms Network across WA;
- $3.1 million for the Bushfire Framework Review to improve bushfire preparedness;
- $99.4 million for Government Regional Officers’ Housing (GROH) across regional WA;
- Additional $2 million to Community Resource Centres; and
- $2.5 million towards Operation Regional Shield to tackle youth crime in regional WA.
For more information, visit https://www.ourstatebudget.wa.gov.au
As stated by Premier and Treasurer Mark McGowan:
“The State Budget is investing in the Great Southern’s future – diversifying the regional economy, keeping WA fair and creating local jobs for the long term.
“WA’s strong financial position enables us to provide important cost of living support for Great Southern families, while continuing to pay down debt and keep the State’s finances healthy.
“We are providing a major boost to regional health and mental health, ensuring there are more doctors, nurses and resources in the Great Southern, with continued funding to manage COVID-19.
“The WA Jobs Plan is working to support thousands of new jobs in regional WA, with millions of job-creating investment in tourism, agriculture and emerging industries.
“Our record investment in regional infrastructure, ongoing commitment to Royalties for Regions and quality service delivery will ensure the Great Southern continues to be a terrific place to live.”
As stated by Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan:
“The State Government is continuing to focus on strengthening and diversifying opportunities for Great Southern communities.
“We are working hard to support and grow established sectors like resources and primary industries, while providing important investment so the Great Southern can capitalise on new economic opportunities.
“Our record investment in regional infrastructure and strong focus on country health and economic diversification is making sure the Great Southern is well placed to prosper into the future.”
As stated by Albany MLA Rebecca Stephens:
“This State Budget will see $13 million spent on a new Albany Dental Clinic, providing a much improved service for the local community.
“I’m pleased our tourism industry will continue to see strong support – with millions in destination marketing for Tourism WA to promote our wonderful region to the world.”
As stated by Warren-Blackwood MLA Jane Kelsbie:
“Our Native Forestry Transition Plan is providing strong support to affected workers and businesses, driving diversification opportunities for our communities, and securing new job opportunities for local people.
“The State Budget is providing strong support to help our tourism industry reconnect with the world, with tens of millions of dollars allocated to destination marketing to promote our diverse region, as well as new funding set aside to create new experiences in our unique and world-class national parks.”