Washington Premier Mark McGowan used the mid-year budget review to reveal that the $ 1,000 cap on public sector pay increases has ended.
- Western Australia’s budget surplus reduced from $ 2.8 billion to $ 2.4 billion
- Public sector workers can get a 2.5% pay rise for two years
- Net debt drops for third year to $ 32.6 billion
McGowan also attributed a revised state budget surplus to $ 2.4 billion, from $ 2.8 billion, to the expected decline in iron ore prices.
Amid a slew of health-related funding, more details have been revealed of an estimated $ 80 million set aside to help people forced into self-isolation due to COVID-19.
Mr McGowan said the funding would be managed by the Department of Communities, with one-time payments of $ 320 to be made to casual workers without access to other entitlements such as sick leave.
The mid-year review also predicted that net debt would decline for the third year in a row, to $ 32.6 billion.
Public sector wages to rise for the first time in four years
The changes to public sector wages come after annual wage increases for public sector employees were capped at $ 1,000 for the past four years as a budget relief measure.
“For the next two years, public sector employees will enjoy a 2.5 percent pay rise per year,” McGowan said.
Mr McGowan said workers could choose between a connection bonus of $ 1,000 or an additional 0.25% per year for negotiated productivity improvement.
âIt’s a choice, you can choose one or the other,â he said.
Mr McGowan said the cap was lifted following the completion of a public sector salary review.
âThis is a fair and reasonable measure to ensure that we are properly rewarding the workforce without breaking the budget,â he said.
“This is the measure that we have concluded and which will be deployed from now on.”
“It is expected to cost $ 1.2 billion over the next four years.”
Salary increase welcome but insufficient: union
WA union secretary Owen Whittle said the removal of the $ 1,000 cap was welcome and came sooner than expected.
Mr Whittle said this was not up to what UnionsWA was asking for, but would result in a real pay rise.
“Unions need to see the details of this new framework and for those who are in negotiations or whose workplace agreements expire, the devil is in the details,” he said.
âUnion members will decide in negotiations whether to accept the state government’s wage offer.
Mr McGowan said the drop in the price of iron ore that had eroded the surplus was offset by gains in collecting stamp duties and payroll taxes.
These were strong due to the strong demand in the real estate market and the low unemployment rate.
More health workers needed for reopening: AMA
The headline of the government’s sale of the budget review was spending on a range of health measures.
Australian Medical Association (AM) WA President Mark Duncan-Smith welcomed the funding but said more is needed to fix the state’s hospital system.
“But we appreciate that the Prime Minister has finally opened the wallet and we see the money spent.”
Dr Duncan-Smith said more doctors and nurses were needed beyond the recruitment efforts planned by the government.
He said the AMA is calling on nurses who have retired or left the profession to consider returning as the state braces for local cases of COVID-19 once the border is relaxed in February.
âThe WA medical system is currently at an all-time high, our intensive care units are often in ‘black bed’ which means there are none available,â he said. declared.
âJust because COVID is knocking on our door doesn’t mean that car accidents, pneumonia, sepsis still don’t happen.
âIt is certain that in order for us to cope with a significant outbreak of COVID, the status quo in hospitals will have to end, elective surgery will have to be canceled to create this capacity to meet demand in the system. “
Opposition compares McGowan to Scrooge McDuck
Shadow Treasurer Steve Thomas said the McGowan government had only iron ore to thank for the surplus, rather than sound fiscal management.
The price of iron ore has fluctuated over the past six months from $ 220 per tonne to less than $ 90, and is currently hovering around $ 110 per tonne.
“It’s time for Mark McGowan to stop imitating Scrooge McDuck, rolling money in his trash, and it’s time for him to thank the iron ore industry and the Commonwealth for his inherited wealth,” Dr Thomas said.
“To suggest that their financial management was responsible for this result is a ridiculous sleight of hand and should not be left unchallenged.”
“This is yet another Treasury report showing that the McGowan government has received a mountain of money, but it has failed to maintain services like health and housing and it has completely failed to take advantage of the boom time to prepare for the next downturn. “
WA strikes above its weight: McGowan
The review also showed 50,000 jobs created in WA this fiscal year, including 22,700 created in November.
McGowan stressed that no other state is expected to record an operating surplus at any time in the next four years.
He said WA has transported the rest of the nation economically over the past several years.
The state has been responsible for 40% of the country’s growth in the previous 24 months, when it represents only 11% of the population.
The mid-year review predicts that economic growth will accelerate by 3.5 percent this fiscal year, the highest rate in 8 years.
One of the main drivers of this growth has been employment, which is expected to increase by 3.75 percent.
WA also had the highest labor force participation rate of any state, at 69.4%.
The review also covered investments in transport, a urea project in Pilbara and hydrogen hubs in Pilbara and the Mid West.
Mr McGowan also hoped that the Standard & Poor’s rating agency would seek to revise the state’s credit rating from positive AA + to AAA in the coming years.