The McGowan Labor Government is setting the Wheatbelt 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, over $410 million a year will be invested in WA Police’s regional districts.
The State Government is also this year delivering on a $200 million joint State ($40 million) Commonwealth ($160 million) funding package to boost WA’s regional rail network.
This includes progressively reopening the Tier 3 Narrogin-Kulin rail line to service grain and other potential customers in the Narrogin-Wickepin area – as well as rail siding extensions at Moora, Brookton, Cranbrook, Broomehill, Avon, Kellerberrin, Dowerin, Konnongorring, Ballidu, Mingenew, and Perenjori North, and upgrades to the Midland Line Main Line.
The 2022-23 Budget continues efforts to diversify the economy, create local jobs and support tourism, and includes:
- $80 million boost to the Investment Attraction Fund, increasing it to $180 million to support diversification proposals to create local jobs in new and emerging industries;
- $50 million increase to the Industrial Land Development Fund, increasing it to $100 million to unlock private sector investment and spark new growth opportunities;
- $25 million will establish the new Western Australian Agricultural Collaboration to grow agriculture research and development in WA;
- $21.1 million boost to Tourism WA’s destination marketing to encourage tourists to come to WA and travel into the regions;
- $17.7 million for Tourism WA to develop new tourism experiences in national parks;
- $12 million for the WA-Array seismic survey to unlock new mineral deposits and job-creating opportunities around the State;
- $6 million to the Minerals Research Institute of Western Australia to pursue strategic research opportunities, including critical minerals and clean energy technologies;
- $4.5 million boost to the Local Capability Fund to assist local businesses to increase their capability and competitiveness; and
- Bringing regional road maintenance jobs in-house to Main Roads, securing 490 jobs in regional WA, including upgrading the Northam and Narrogin depots.
The State Budget’s significant investment in regional health and mental health is delivering:
- $30.1 million for 18 additional paramedics and six ambulances across regional WA, delivering on an election commitment;
- $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 access mental health services;
- $5 million for upgrades to health staff accommodation, including in the Wheatbelt; 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 in the Wheatbelt, including:
- Up to $1.6 million as part of the Disaster Recovery Construction Training Grant incentive to support training of construction workers engaged in reconstruction following Cyclone Seroja;
- $113.1 million of fee reductions will be achieved in regional WA through the successful Lower fees, local skills initiative;
- $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;
- $2.4 million to attract international students to live and study in regional WA, addressing skills needs in aged care, disability services, childcare, hospitality and tourism; and
- $42.5 million for State-wide COVID-19 measures in schools, including enhanced cleaning programs, mask and PPE supplies, and Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) distribution.
The 2022-23 State Budget brings continued investment in local roads and transport projects, including:
- $120 million Moorine Rock to Mount Holland road upgrades to support the Covalent lithium mine;
- $250 million Great Eastern Highway upgrades at Coates Gully between Walgoolan to Southern Cross and between Ghooli to Benari;
- $10 million Chidlow-York Road and Forrest Street intersection;
- An additional $159 million to the Regional Road Safety Program, now totalling $828 million, which has already delivered upgraded shoulders and installed audible edges to more than 996 kilometres of Wheatbelt roads;
- Around $200 million for the Resealing Program in regional WA;
- $146 million for the Safer Roads and Bridges Program in regional WA; and
- $1.5 million to expand the Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) taxi service grant scheme, including for 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 Wheatbelt communities are kept safe and strong, with important investment in:
- $11 million for a Large Air Tanker to be permanently based in regional WA during bushfire season for the first time;
- $4.2 million in additional funding for disaster recovery efforts, including for Cyclone Seroja;
- $15.9 million upgrade to the Emergency WA website to ensure critical information in emergency situations is more easily accessible;
- $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 investment in Government Regional Officers’ Housing (GROH) across regional WA;
- $2 million to Community Resource Centres across regional WA; 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 Wheatbelt’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 Wheatbelt families, while continuing to pay down debt and keep the State’s finances healthy.
“We are investing a record amount in regional health and mental health, ensuring there are more doctors, nurses and resources in the Wheatbelt, 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 agriculture, resources and emerging industries.
“Our record investment in regional infrastructure, ongoing commitment to Royalties for Regions and quality service delivery ensure the Wheatbelt 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 Wheatbelt communities.
“We are working hard to support and grow established sectors like resources and primary industries, while providing important investment so the Wheatbelt 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 Wheatbelt is well placed to prosper into the future.”