News WA adds another $2.7 billion for coronavirus recovery plan

WA adds another $2.7 billion for coronavirus recovery plan

WA Premier Mark McGowan Premier Mark McGowan says the plan will further stimulate job creation. Photo: AAP
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A further $2.7 billion will be spent by the McGowan government on rescuing jobs and repairing damage to the West Australian economy from the coronavirus pandemic.

The recovery plan, unveiled on Sunday, identifies 21 priority areas but outlines only two new initiatives, with others to be rolled out in coming weeks.

It adds to almost $2.8 billion in stimulus measures already announced since the start of the pandemic.

Premier Mark McGowan says the plan will further stimulate job creation following the removal of most COVID-19 restrictions within the state.

About 120,000 jobs are estimated to have been lost in WA since March.

“We estimate that from the reopening of the economy within Western Australia, there’s around 60,000 jobs contained within that,” the premier told reporters.

“We expect this plan will deliver many thousands of jobs on top of that.

“We’re rushing as fast as we can to get as many projects out the door, as much activity under way as soon as possible.”

A $66 million renewable energy package will fund regional solar power systems, battery energy storage packs and infrastructure upgrades in remote Aboriginal communities.

The government has also earmarked $60 million for “shovel-ready” maintenance work at police and fire stations.

Treasurer Ben Wyatt last December forecast a $2.6 billion budget surplus for the 2019-20 financial year.

But while the iron ore price has tracked above expectations, other revenue sources have been significantly eroded.

The state budget will be handed down the same week as the federal budget in October.

“Our focus is jobs activity and confidence,” Mr McGowan said.

“Debt and deficits and surpluses come second.

“People do talk about the iron ore price and obviously that’s a help. But clearly our GST revenue, our payroll tax revenue, land tax and stamp duty have all gone through the floor.”

About 500 different initiatives are set to be announced in total, spanning virtually every sector of the state economy.

“It is very much front-ended (so) in that first 12 months, the first two years, you’ll see the vast majority of that money spent,” Mr Wyatt said.

Opposition leader Liza Harvey said it was essential that all the jobs created under the plan went to West Australians.

WA recorded two new coronavirus cases on Sunday.

The women, aged in their 20s, are in hotel quarantine after returning from overseas.

The state has five active cases.