Royalties plan funding cutback

The West Australian
Mike Nahan delivers the State Budget.
Camera IconMike Nahan delivers the State Budget. Credit: The West Australian

A new $1 billion annual spending limit on Royalties for Regions, announced in the State Budget, means just 12.4� in every dollar of WA mining royalties will flow into the fund within three years

The spending limit means Royalties for Regions' $1 billion balance cap will be breached for the first time in 2014-15, with $415 million of royalties flowing back into consolidated revenue, rising to $3.1 billion over the next four years.

Electricity tariffs for households and small business will rise 4.5 per cent and the regulated tariff for medium and big business by 10 per cent.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association President Tony Seabrook said it was disappointing the State Government was prepared to take money away from the bush and continue to impose costs at the same time.

"The changes to the Royalties scheme are disappointing and it was never a big ask for the urban areas to give back to the regions," he said.

Mr Seabrook said Perth derived an incredible benefit from the mining in the pastoral areas and having the RfR headline figure reduced was unreasonable.

He also warned that the additional fees, tariffs and taxes announced in the budget will hurt manufacturers and exporters.

"Their will be calls for wage rises to cover the increases and this will just generate inflation, with all of its consequences," Mr Seabrook said.

"The State has been spending big and we're paying for it with increases to the cost of doing business," he said.

"If these budgetary measures impact in such a way that it makes our exports less competitive, then this is not a good budgetary outcome for manufacturers or our exporters."

Mr Seabrook said there was a simple solution for the State to rein in its budget.

"If the Barnett Government is seeking more money, then just stop spending it," he said.

"If we're heading towards a $30 billion State Government deficit do we really need to spend a $1 billion on a new footy oval?"

But rival lobby group WAFamers said the budget was a good outcome for farmers.

President Dale Park said he was pleased to see "the State government retain its commitment to the future competitiveness of agriculture".

"Despite budget pressures, the State government has stood by its promise to help grow agriculture as the industry faces new challenges and opportunities," he said.

In 2014-15, $51.5million of the $300 million commitment for the Seizing the Opportunity Agriculture initiative has been allocated, indicating the project will begin to take off in the next financial year.

Mr Park said WAFarmers also welcomes growth in the Department of Agriculture and Food's commitment to the transformational development of the agrifood sector.

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