$2.7 billion stimulus to boost state’s economy

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The West Australian Government has uncovered $2.7 billion in new stimulus spending intended to boost the state’s economy, with a focus on renewable energy and building maintenance among other areas.

A total of 21 sectors have been marked for stimulus, including health and social infrastructure, tourism and manufacturing.

The program takes the total value of the State Government’s stimulus to $5.5 billion since the coronavirus pandemic started.

Premier Mark McGowan said the combined stimulus package, dubbed the ‘WA Recovery Plan’, signified a “massive” channel of work.

“Much of the initiatives contained within this document are about inspiring and incentivising the private sector to create jobs, to build and invest,” Mr McGowan told reporters.

A $60 million “shovel-ready” building maintenance program will be directed at State Government facilities, including police and fire stations, as well as improved disability access at train stations.

Another $66.3 million will be spent on renewable energy technologies.

The Premier said the pipeline of works would roll out over the “coming months and years”.

“We’re rushing as fast as we can to get as many projects out the door, as much activity underway … as possible,” Mr McGowan said.

“Our priority now is getting people back to work, keeping businesses sustainable, making sure that our economy recovers.

“It’s not on paying off debt, it’s not on delivering surpluses.”

Treasury suggests ‘thousands’ of jobs will be generated.

Mr McGowan said the recovery plan was likely to deliver “many thousands” of jobs, according to Treasury estimates.

About 60,000 positions are expected to be ‘freed up’ once the reopening of the economy is complete.

Mr McGowan said the estimations were calculated with the notion that WA’s interstate border would continue to remain closed.

The Government would connect with businesses “over the next month to six weeks” to make sure each industry knew what stimulus was available, Mr McGowan added.

State Recovery Controller Sharyn O’Neill, who was assigned to the role in May, said she had spent substantial time in discussions with the community to build the plan.

“More than 800 people came to ministerial roundtables,” Ms O’Neill said.

“The whole plan is about jobs, about confidence, about getting people back to work or keeping them in work and building a pipeline for the future.”

Previously announced aspects of the government’s stimulus plan include grants for new housing and small business tax cuts.

Renewable energy spend for regions.

A total of $44.5 million will be expended on renewable energy infrastructure in WA’s North West, including 50 standalone power systems.

Nine regional communities will have battery storage systems fitted, with some remote Aboriginal communities to receive infrastructure improvements.

Treasurer Ben Wyatt said the stimulus package was created with the private sector front of mind.

“One of the things that I’ve been painfully aware of … is that ultimately the Government — as a contributor to the economy — is 10 to 15 per cent,” Mr Wyatt said.

“It’s the private sector that we need to get up and running again, investing and employing people, and that’s what the recovery plan … is designed to do.”

Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA chief economist Aaron Morey said while the extra investment was welcome, businesses would set aside their judgement on the plan until more detail became available.

“The business community needs the detail of that spending as soon as possible so they can start to plan and invest around those announcements,” Mr Morey said.

“Clearly the most important thing for this state is to create a more competitive business environment.

“Western Australia relies on foreign capital investment and the best way, the most direct way, to drive that is by lowering the tax burden on business in this state.”

The majority of West Australians with COVID-19 have recovered.

Meanwhile, WA recorded two new COVID-19 cases overnight, both of whom are returned Australian travellers and remain in hotel quarantine.

It brings WA’s total case number to 658 after two historical cases were recorded on Saturday.

Mr McGowan said both new cases were identified through routine testing, with one of the travellers having returned from the United Kingdom.

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