It’s time WA received its fair share

By REIWA President – Damian Collins

REIWA is calling for all political parties contesting the Federal Election to commit to ensuring Western Australia has the funds required to keep up with our infrastructure needs.

WA is routinely overlooked at a Federal level when it comes to infrastructure investment. A recent example of this was in the 2019-20 Federal Budget announcement earlier this month, when the Morrison Government allocated $1.6 billion of its $40 billion infrastructure budget to projects in WA.

The $1.6 billion allocation is a mere 4% of Australia’s total $40 billion budget, which is exceptionally low when you consider WA is home to 10% of Australians and WA currently accounts for 15% of the country’s Gross State Product (GSP).

Considering how much our state contributes to the nation’s economy, it is only fair we receive at least the same percentage in Federal infrastructure funding. REIWA is advocating for the implementation of a minimum Federal infrastructure budget based on WA’s contribution to Australia’s GSP. As it stands WA is currently the only state without an independent infrastructure body, tasked with the planning and prioritising of major projects.

The McGowan Government has done its part to ensure we get a fair share of funding through the establishment of Infrastructure WA, which aims to build a strong economy by improving infrastructure coordination and planning, encouraging investment and supporting job creation.

The Infrastructure WA Bill 2019 is currently before the WA Parliament. If this bill is passed, it will enable an independent body to be established and a long-term infrastructure strategy to be put in place.

While the strategy will ensure WA gets its fair share of funding in the future, this is still some years from being a reality. In the meantime, the newly elected Federal Government must ensure WA receives adequate funding.

In the past couple of weeks there have been some positive developments in this space, with the announcement of three Federal funded state projects which include the $1.7 billion transformation of Tonkin Highway, the Metronet Bayswater station upgrade and the Metronet boom-gate blitz planned for the Armadale line.

While REIWA is pleased these projects are receiving funding, the timing of these announcements raises questions about whether this is more about political point scoring to win votes in the upcoming election than give WA its fair share. It is imperative whoever is elected to government ensures WA remains a priority into the future.

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