Health spending and cost of living major focus of Mark McGowan’s WA budget

Premier Mark McGowan’s second budget as Treasurer has delivered another significant surplus and some relief for households, but few surprises.

After a record-high $5.8 billion surplus in last year’s budget, this year’s budget delivers a slightly reduced surplus of $5.7 billion.

Like previous years, that’s largely because of increases in mining royalties, taxes and the state receiving more GST money than expected.

“This is another strong budget that helps set Western Australia up for a bright future beyond the pandemic,” Mr McGowan said.

Mark McGowan smiles while holding the budget papers
WA Premier Mark McGowan says the budget aims to reduce cost of living pressures. (ABC News: James Carmody)

The most significant measure announced today was a $400 electricity credit for every household, which will cost the state $455 million in total.

Other cost of living support will largely come through household fees and charges increasing by less than the state’s predicted inflation rate.

Health spending a big focus

Support for the state’s ailing health system remains below what many in the sector would have liked to see.

The budget contains a total of $2.5 billion for health, including an extra $629 million to fund services over the next year – a 12 percent increase to what had been estimated in last year’s budget.

Empty bed at Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital
The health spend includes a $252 million package to help struggling emergency departments. (ABC News: Chris Gillette)

Almost everything else for the sector had already been announced, including $223.4 million in new money for infrastructure and a similar amount to reduce pressure on emergency departments.

The Premier said his government was doing everything it could to help the system, but there was little hope of short-term relief.

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