Growth, ore prices to swell WA budget surplus to $3.7b

Western Australia's government will be $400 million better off this financial year, with a healthy budget surplus off the back of a thriving economy and robust iron ore prices.

In the mid-year budget review, the Cook government projected the state's finances to end $3.7 billion in the black for 2023/24, up from $3.3 billion forecast in May.

Treasurer Rita Saffioti said economic growth was 3.5 per cent in 2022/23, the strongest in nine years.

"The Cook Labor government continues to deliver strong and sustainable financial results, with an outlook for unbroken operating surpluses and record investment in infrastructure for the state's future, while continuing to pay down debt," she said on Tuesday.

WA Treasurer Rita Saffioti.
Treasurer Rita Saffioti hailed WA's economic growth of 3.5 per cent, the strongest in nine years.

Net debt is expected to be $27.2 billion at June 30, which is $2.2 billion lower than forecast in the budget and the fifth consecutive annual decline.

An increase in the treasury's forecast price for iron ore from $74.1 per tonne to $104.2 has contributed to WA's healthy fiscal position.

Price volatility meant the state's forecast for lithium royalties dropped as the commodity's market value fell.

“Our strong financial management puts us in an enviable position, where we continue to invest back into the community with record spend in our infrastructure plus investment in key services," Ms Saffioti said.

Major investments in the review include $2.8 billion for a Perth desalination plant and more than $700 million to upgrade WA’s main electricity network.

Ms Saffioti said WA also had $1.4 billion for other cost pressures and increases in other projects including $180 million for the Bayswater train station and road projects jointly funded with the Commonwealth.

A further $2.8 billion has been allotted for public sector wage rises and more than $600 million was earmarked for health.

Services supporting children in care and homeless people will receive funding boosts, along with family and domestic violence initiatives and a range of measures to increase housing supply.

Shadow treasurer Steve Thomas said the "biggest fiscal boom in our nation’s history" was based on good luck "thanks to the iron ore royalties", and not on good financial management.

He called for more measures to combat the rising cost of living and support vulnerable households "struggling to put food on the table and keep the lights on".

“The Cook Labor government has an even greater capacity to help Western Australian families ... and should do so immediately," he said.

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