New trains no use if West Australians can't afford to eat

May 11, 2024 10:00 AM
Libby Mettam
WA Liberal Leader

This week’s Budget was a financial tragedy of Shakespearean proportions — as WA emerges from one of the greatest periods of revenue increases it has ever seen, with a balance sheet crippled by record debt, with no believable path to stabilisation.”

This quote is not mine, it was from Labor’s shadow treasurer Ben Wyatt eight years ago.

Astoundingly, it is more apt to use this quote today, given how the Cook Government has squandered the largest boom this State has ever seen.

Labor’s eighth Budget should have delivered real benefits that supported the wellbeing and prosperity of all West Australians.

Instead, it was a Budget of wrong priorities — the boom has been blown and debt is skyrocketing.

Despite a $3.2b surplus, building on the $19b in surpluses they have already squandered, the tangible benefits for the average West Australian remain elusive.

Across the State, crime rates are soaring leaving West Australians feeling unsafe in the community.

Police morale is low, with nearly 1000 officers walking out the door over the past two years. WA recorded its worst year ever for domestic violence last year, including a 41 per cent increase in family related offences when compared to the previous five years.

Our health system, arguably the worst in the country, is also faltering. Ramping continues to operate at out-of-control levels and elective surgery wait lists have blown out by 50 per cent to almost 30,000 people.

In our regional communities, access to quality health care remains a significant concern, where services are often limited, or in many cases, non-existent.

On the housing front, the situation is beyond dire, with many West Australians struggling to find affordable housing, and skyrocketing prices putting home ownership out of reach for many.

Since Labor came to power seven years ago, we have had an additional 114 social homes provided, with more than 35,000 people languishing on waiting lists for social housing.

The education sector is not faring any better, with teachers’ salaries plummeting from the highest in Australia to near the bottom.

Similarly, our nurses have joined them in this race to the bottom of becoming the lowest paid in the nation.

Financial distress is widespread, with more than 400,000 residents struggling to choose between paying bills and feeding their families.

There has been a 200 per cent increase in kids going to school hungry and many families are also being forced to live out of their cars due to a shortage of affordable rental properties.

While our State has never been wealthier, our community continues to suffer. Where is all the money going?

It is astounding that — in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis — the Budget includes an extra $4.8b over the next four years that will not help our most vulnerable or the charities that support them, but instead is there for the Treasurer and Transport Minister’s pet project, Metronet.

Initially promised to cost around $4b, the project’s expenses have ballooned to an estimated $13b, a staggering 300 per cent increase.

While there is no doubt that improving public transportation is important, one must question the timing and allocation of such a substantial investment.

How does an enhanced train network benefit those who cannot afford to feed their family?

The $2b blowout on Metronet in the last 12 months alone could have been used to fund another Fiona Stanley Hospital, 26,000 new teachers, 24,000 new police officers, or 29,000 new nurses.

The mind boggles at what the additional $9b could have provided.

As Liberal leader, it is my responsibility to hold this Government to account and demand a budget that truly prioritises the wellbeing and prosperity of all West Australians — a Budget that invests in our future and builds a stronger, more resilient WA for generations to come.

← Back to the media centre
Privacy, Terms & Conditions
4 Harvest Terrace
West Perth WA 6005