National Seniors welcomes the West Australian Budget released last week. This is the third budget handed down since Labor took office in 2017. It has some positive news on the state of the economy. Larger cost of living increases in the previous budget have been largely contained this year. Disappointedly, there is little in the way of new funding for initiatives to address specific issues raised by National Seniors in our budget submission.
This budget signals a change in fortune for West Australia after years of budget deficits. According to the budget papers the government will deliver a surplus of $553 million in 2018-19, two years ahead of schedule. The surplus is forecast to grow to $2.6bn in 2020/21, largely on the back of rising iron ore prices and increased GST revenues.
In recent years, WA seniors have struggled to meet living expenses as the cost of essential services have risen excessively. We are pleased the reversal of fortunes in this year’s budget will help stem increases in household living costs.
Electricity prices will only increase in line with inflation and public transport fares have increased marginally above inflation. While this is good news, it is disappointing both water and vehicle costs will increase at rates which are above inflation.
National Seniors welcomes government investment in transport, health and education, including the proposed increase in funding for palliative care services. However, we are disappointed there is no funding for other senior’s specific initiatives outlined in our budget submission.
Our budget submission called for:
- additional funding for oral health
- stamp duty concessions for seniors who downsize
- career transition assistance for mature workers
- mandatory installation of fire sprinklers in aged care facilities, and
- extension of the energy subsidy to include gas.
- Upgrade of the Royal Perth Hospital ageing intensive care unit ($22.7 million).
- Increased funding for palliative care ($41 million), including a 38-bed residential aged and palliative care centre for Carnarvon.
- Future Health and Research Fund ($52 million).
- $4.3 billion committed to the Metronet rail project.
- $1.3 billion in new investment in road projects.
- Drivers licence fees remain unchanged.
- Standard public transport fares increased by 2 per cent.
- Vehicle-related costs up 2.6 per cent, costing around $22 a year.
A modest increase in household fees and charges of $127 annually on average - this includes an increase in the price of electricity of 1.75 per cent and an increase in standard fixed water service charges of 2.5 per cent.
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