SPECIAL REPORT

State Budget 2024-25

State budget 2024-25

A look at what the 2024-25 state budget means for Echo News readers.
May 16, 2024

Road, rail and transport infrastructure

OVER the next four years a total of $11.8 billion has been allocated for new road, rail and transport infrastructure projects, part of the overall $42.4b investment in new infrastructure across the state.

The budget provides $4.8b over the next four years to deliver Metronet, supported by $2.9b in federal funding, and an additional $254m for the Metronet infrastructure program, with the Yanchep rail extension to commence operations in July and the Morley-Ellenbrook line on track to be completed by the end of 2024.

Completion of these five major Metronet rail projects will see the delivery of 17 new train stations, 61.5km of new tracks, 5.5km of new elevated rail, six hectares of new public open space and the first east-west connecting rail between the Mandurah and Armadale lines.

A total of $13.4b will be invested on the state’s roads over the next four years, to deliver new infrastructure, upgrade and maintain existing roads, manage the network and undertake future planning, including $4.5b of regional investment.

Tourism funding welcomed

THE Australian Hotels Association WA has welcomed the $36.6 million increase in investment in the state’s tourism industry including boosts to event funding and workforce development, but will continue to lobby for payroll tax relief.

The funding, delivered as part of the 2024-25 state Budget, will increase the existing major events fund by $25m over the next four years and create a new metro events program worth $3.6m designed to draw in locals and visitors from outside WA.

“This new funding will play a significant role in boosting the reputation of WA as an events destination, bringing new visitors to the state and driving economic growth for our hotel and hospitality industry,” AHA (WA) chief executive officer Bradley Woods said.

He also welcomed the additional $4.9m funding to continue the work of the tourism workforce development program.

Further funding for fee free TAFE

THE state government has allocated $195 million to keep training affordable and help more local workers into the jobs of the future, with an $8m top-up to continue the successful fee free TAFE initiative.

Additional fee free places have been allocated to keep pace with demand, which has led to more than 62,000 enrolments since the start of 2023.

Targeted support for WA’s critical building and construction sector and other key industries continues to flow through a range of initiatives, including $85m to grow WA’s construction industry workforce.

This includes funding for initiatives to encourage more apprentices into good jobs in the building and construction industry and help them to complete their qualifications.

Milestone payments of $1000 will be made available for eligible building and construction apprentices after they complete each training milestone, along with a $1000 rebate to help purchase tools or safety equipment at both commencement and completion of their training.

Recently enhanced services to improve Aboriginal Western Australians’ access to the statewide network of jobs and skills centres will continue beyond June 2025, thanks to a $4.2m commitment to involve more First Nations peoples in frontline service delivery.

The skilled migrant job connect program will receive $5.6m over three years to keep connecting skilled migrants to WA employers, providing subsidies of up to $7500 to eligible migrants located in WA who are seeking to gain local employment.

Families record budget relief

THE state government will deliver record cost of living relief to every WA household, with the state Budget providing $762 million in new cost of living support for families.

The package is headlined by a new $400 household electricity credit, in two instalments - with the first paid from July and the second from December, during the power peaks.

An additional $300 for each household was also announced in the federal budget this week.

Additional support is also available for those who need it most, with energy assistance payments to bring total energy bill assistance to $734 for around 330,000 eligible households - including pensioners, veterans and health care card holders.

Eligible families can also receive the dependent child rebate, bringing the total support to at least $1086.

Small businesses will also benefit from a new $400 electricity credit for more than 90,000 small businesses with annual electricity consumption below 50 megawatt hours per annum.

The basket of state government household fees and charges for an everyday WA family will decline by two per cent or $124 in 2024-25, with the basket of household fees and charges remaining more than $140 lower in 2024-25 than in 2018-19.

Environment and water security

THE state government’s commitment to strong environmental protections and water security will be bolstered by $536 million in new investments in the 2024-25 state Budget.

The government has progressed a number of important initiatives over the past 12 months to boost climate action, protect WA’s pristine environment and secure the state’s water future.

These include moving to legislate the State’s net zero commitment, ending native forest logging, continuing the biggest expansion of WA’s conservation estate in history and starting site works on Perth’s third desalination plant at Alkimos.

Those decisions will now be supported by a $73m investment in ‘plan for our parks’ and a $67.2m investment in the forest management plan (FMP) 2024-33.

An additional $320m has been committed to upgrade vital water infrastructure across the state, which will both unlock development opportunities and help secure water supply in the regions.

This includes a $79.9m investment to replace vital Water Corporation infrastructure across WA through a water and wastewater pipeline renewals program.

Future upgrades to the Goldfields and agricultural water supply scheme are being prioritised under an initial $15m commitment to undertake critical planning and design work, supporting long-term economic development in the Goldfields and Wheatbelt.

An additional $21.2m investment will support the government’s environmental monitoring, compliance and enforcement activities, including for Alcoa’s mining operations in the Darling Ranges.

Other initiatives funded in the Budget include $30m to strengthen regional bushfire management in national parks and state forests, $3.1m to continue the native vegetation policy, and $2.7m additional funding to understand the impact of climate change on WA’s water resources.

Hospital and mental health funding

THE state government will invest a record additional $3.2 billion in health to boost hospital capacity, support the health workforce and improve patient access to care, including more than $1.2b for core WA public hospital services to cope with demand.

Mental health, alcohol and other drug (AOD) services will also be bolstered with a $260m investment.
A further $60.9m will be allocated to transform child and adolescent mental health services, bringing the total to $143.6m.

Improving access to emergency departments and enhancing coordination of patients across the WA health system has been aided by additional funding of $154.6m for health and mental health initiatives.

Key initiatives to improve patient access include:
• $1.1m in 2024-25 to continue to deliver the residential care line;
• $28m to continue the WA Virtual Emergency Department program, part of the State Health Operations Centre;
• $6.2m over 2024-25 and 2025-26 for the Patient Transport Coordination Hub; and
• $8.6m over 2024-25 and 2025-26 for the Co-HIVE program (East Metropolitan Health Service).
Major mental health and alcohol and other drug initiatives funded in the budget include:
• $32.2m to support suicide prevention;
• $13.6m to boost the workforce at licensed private psychiatric hostels;
• $10.6m to continue the active recovery team program;
• $10.1m to increase funding for non-government organisations for mental health, alcohol and other drug prevention services;
• $22.4m to establish acute care and response teams (ACRTs);
• $19.5m for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service’s crisis connect service to support children and their families to remain at home while waiting for an appointment; and
• $4.7m to the 24-hour WA Country Health Service brief crisis intervention service.

Doctor shortages not addressed

THE 2024-25 state Budget lays bare the challenges facing the WA health system and the ever-growing need to address doctor shortages that impact the effective delivery of healthcare.

With the state’s population set to pass three million next financial year and the population increasing by 94,000 just in the last financial year, the increase in demand for health services is obvious.

In its $12.8 billion health budget for 2024-25, the government has allocated $1.2b for public hospital services to offset some of the demand.

However, AMA (WA) president Dr Michael Page said it was evident that much more will need to be done to address the shortage of doctors.

“The government has added 1800 full-time equivalent doctors since 2016-17, but bold initiatives will be required to ensure a pipeline of doctors to address ongoing demand.

Health and mental health account for 30 per cent of the State’s recurrent spending.

“We see further scope to fund the crucial role played by doctors in this most crucial of sectors,” he said.

“Our ‘hospital health check’ survey of junior doctors, released last week, showed the impact of emergency department demand on the well-being of our workforce.

“We support initiatives contained in the government’s ramping strategy, including an additional $28m towards the WA Virtual Emergency Department and $6.2 m for the patient transport coordination hub.

“An investment of $7.9m to support stage one of the mental health co-response ambulance pilot to divert mention mental health patients is also welcome.”

The government has allocated $260m towards mental health and alcohol and other drug services, while $405m of the health budget is directed to the regions.

Investing in digital capabilities for the future with a $200 million package was welcomed by Dr Page.

Budget boost for sports programs

COMMUNITY sport and recreation facilities throughout the state will benefit from a $6.7 million expansion of the successful community sporting and recreation facilities fund and club night lights program.

A further $10.9m will be provided to deliver key maintenance at a range of WA sporting venues, while $5m in funding will go towards refurbishments, upgrades and improved access arrangements at HBF Arena and HBF Stadium.

The WA Rugby Centre will benefit from almost $1m in facility upgrades, including modifications to changerooms to ensure gender equal access.

In total, more than $53m will go towards improvements, maintenance and planning.

The funding will support redevelopment and modernisation of venues to increase the number of users, with floodlights allowing for longer hours of use into the evenings.

More funding for school education

A TOTAL of $6.8 billion has been allocated in this year’s state Budget to school education in 2024-25, an increase of $224m or 3.6 per cent from the previous year.

Additional funding of $391.3m has been allocated over 2023-24 to 2027-28 to ensure state schools will have the necessary teaching staff and resources to accommodate enrolment growth and provide high-quality programs for all students.

A $26.5m double-storey classroom block will be built at Caversham Primary School to replace long-term transportable classrooms, while a total of $15m will be invested to fast-track planning for a new secondary school in Brabham.

The government will inject an additional $410m into new schools and upgrades to support WA’s growing suburbs and improve school maintenance across the state.

There were 3992 more students (1.2 per cent growth) enrolled in public schools in Semester 1, 2024 compared to Semester 1, 2023.

The increased investment for public schools includes $224.3m for individual disability loading allocations, and a further $42.7m for English as an additional language or dialect loadings to public schools.

The Budget also includes $3.3m to establish a new school of swimming and water safety.

First home buyer support

REIWA CEO Cath Hart welcomed measures to support housing supply announced in the state government’s first budget, especially increased thresholds for the first home owner transfer duty concession.

“We welcome the fact the government has opted for incentives to boost housing supply, rather than punitive measures such as new taxes as we’ve seen in other states,” Ms Hart said.

“The fundamentals of the WA economy remain strong with the state on track to reach three million people next financial year – driving demand for housing and seeing house prices continue to climb.

“We’re particularly pleased to see changes to the property price thresholds for first home buyer stamp duty exemptions.

“WA has seen strong property price growth over recent years which we expect will continue – this has however meant that first home buyers are not only having to pay more, but that they haven’t been able to access the stamp duty concessions.

Under the changes, first home buyers will now pay no transfer duty on homes valued up to $450,000, a total saving of $15,390.

The threshold was previously $430,000.

Budget delivers Aboriginal support

THE state government has committed almost $300 million of increased investment to support the empowerment and wellbeing of Aboriginal Western Australians.

The new funding will support the government’s ongoing work to address key Closing the Gap targets, while also expanding culturally appropriate community services and extending job-creating programs across a range of industries.

To deliver more reliable energy to Aboriginal communities, $25.2m will be provided for energy improvements and efficiencies to social homes through a social housing energy performance initiative.

Significant funding has been allocated to bolster culturally appropriate community services, including $8.2m for the continuation of the ‘in roads’ program for vulnerable young people, including Aboriginal children, and $5.9m to continue the Aboriginal Representative Organisation (ARO) and Aboriginal Family Led Decision Making (AFLDM) services to support the delivery of culturally responsive services.

The Budget also includes significant investment to support Aboriginal jobseekers, with $4.2 million provided for the continuation of the Department of Training and Workforce Development’s enhanced culturally appropriate and targeted support for Aboriginal clients at jobs and skills centres.

A further $800,000 will also be spent to extend the Aboriginal business capability program for a further two years.

To support Closing the Gap initiatives, $3.5m will be invested, including targeted support for the Aboriginal Advisory Council of Western Australia, while $870,000 will be put towards expanding Legal Aid’s disability advocacy and referral diversion program for young people (DARDY) for two years.

Other initiatives include $6.2m for the expansion of WA Police’s community liaison officer program, $3.1m to continue the Aboriginal community connectors program and $200,000 for the Aboriginal Engagement and Partnership Framework.

Support for domestic violence victims, seniors, youth, law and NDIS clients

THE state government will provide new investment to strengthen support for safer and stronger communities throughout WA.

Protecting victim-survivors of family and domestic violence (FDV) as well as other vulnerable members of the community is a focus in the state Budget, alongside initiatives to reduce crime, enhance court resourcing and support those living with disability.

The state government will enhance FDV response services, fund emergency accommodation, and improve victim-survivor safety.

A further $96.4 million will be invested to prevent FDV including:
• $53.8m for FDV response teams, expanding operations to seven days per week and rolling out additional community corrections officers;
• $14.2m to fund the operations of a new FDV one-stop-hub in the Perth metropolitan area;
• $6.2m to establish a dedicated organisation that will support and develop FDV informed workforces.

The budget has also allocated $88m towards initiatives that support the state’s most vulnerable, including $46.3m to support young people leaving out-of-home care through Home Stretch WA, $17m to support the continuation and expansion of foster carer supports and $13.7m to upgrade residential care homes for children in out-of-home care.

A further $23.4m for ‘operation regional shield’ will enable the important WA Police crime suppression strategy to continue for another two years.

A further commitment has been made to rehabilitate offenders and improve infrastructure within state’s custodial estate, including $850,000 additional funding to implement and integrate new body worn cameras and digital data management for the youth custodial estate.

A further $103.7m is being invested into WA’s legal system, including $69.9m for the implementation of the Criminal Law (Mental Impairment) Act 2023, which comes into force on September 1, $31.7m to support the State Solicitor’s Office and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) to manage increasing workloads, $2.1m for a team of prosecutors focused on expediting and improving the handling of regional Children’s Court cases involving juvenile offenders.

The budget has also allocated $5.1b over the next four years allocated to support National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants, and has committed a $8.8m boost to programs that support WA seniors, including the WA Seniors Card.

 

 

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