Treasurer Defends WA Infrastructure Budget

wayne swan presenting budget

The recent release of the federal budget has created industry turmoil. Tax cuts and various other issues have left industry nationwide losing complete confidence in the federal government and their allocation of money.

One such issue that has been sparked is an attack on the budget that suggests that federal government has neglected to sufficiently invest in Western Australian infrastructure projects.

Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan is lashing back at these comments with the proof of several hundred million dollar roadway projects that he believes will finally share the benefits of the mining boom with the rest of the WA public.

“We are substantially putting a lot of money into the state of Western Australia to make sure that the infrastructure that is required by this growing state is there because this state is one of the great engine rooms of the national economy,” says Swan. “A lot of people in this state don’t feel part of the mining boom, they don’t necessarily feel that they are receiving the direct benefits”.

Swan states that funding for projects such as the $668 million Gateway Project will encourage a sharing of mining stimulated wealth in the state.

“Well, they do receive direct benefit through our investment in the Gateway project, which is funded by revenue from the minerals resource rent tax” says Swan.

The treasurer has further lashed out at the premier of WA, Colin Barnett for comments made in regards to the state’s dwindling GST share.

“We have hit the bottom of the barrel, there is nothing left, there is nothing left” says Barnett.

Swan has labeled these remarks as ‘rubbish’, citing the various infrastructure upgrades such as the $280 million Commonwealth contribution towards the $350 million highway upgrade in order to reduce bottlenecks as proof of the government’s economic support for the WA industry.

“Mr Barnett is just talking rubbish,” Says Swan. “When it comes to investing in infrastructure, we’re here in Western Australia doing the right thing.”

While the federal government has agreed to the request by Barnett to do an independent review of the GST allocation, Swan argues that the revenue share is out of federal government hands.

“The GST revenue comes through and is divided up and the judgements are made by an independent commission,” says Swan. “No matter how much Mr Barnett and (WA Treasurer Christian) Porter want to try and imply the federal government has got something to do with the reduction in GST revenues, it has not.”

Issues with the budget continue to roll in. Prime Minister Julia Gillard has pleaded with the industry to trust the federal government in light of the tumultuous times, but they may be a tall order for those who are increasingly feeling slighted by those in Canberra.

By Tim Moore
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