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WESTERN Australia’s continued economic success has brought good news and bad news in recent days.

The good news comes with Moody’s Investor Services confirming our State’s AAA credit rating which we have had since December 1996.

The State had previously lost the top rating due to the WA Inc excesses of the then Labor Government.

In its announcement at the end of February, Moody’s not only reaffirmed our AAA rating but described the ratings outlook as stable.

Moody’s also commented that Western Australia’s debt ratios are “among the lowest of Australian jurisdictions” and that “the State remains among the lowest taxing States in Australia...”

CLEARLY the Coalition Govern-ment’s commitment to sound financial management is paying off for Western Australia.

The bad news, however, is that this success brings its own penalty in terms of our allocation of money through the Commonwealth Grants Commission.

For the seventh year in a row we are facing cuts in Federal funding.

Three States are earmarked to have their funds cut – and Western Australia’s cut is the biggest of the lot.

The commission proposes the State’s share of funding in 2000-01 be reduced by $56 million.

The drop is equivalent to $29.41 for every man, woman and child in Western Australia.

New South Wales is facing a $22.8 million cut ($3.51 per person) while Victoria is looking at a reduction of $22.6 million ($4.74 per person).

Despite being the major contributor to Australia’s exports, Western Australia receives little incentive in return.

We are, quite simply, being penalised for our continued strong economic performance, putting in far more than we get back.

THE enormous growth in the South West of our State was highlighted at the end of February during the government’s regional Cabinet meeting in the Bunbury area.

Since being elected, we have worked hard to ensure we develop and maintain close contact with people in different parts of Western Australia.

This was one of our regular regional Cabinet meetings and certainly provided some diverse opportunities to meet different people in a variety of locations around Bunbury.

Signs of the growth are everywhere in the area with the outstanding developments in residential housing just one indication of the changes under way.

In 1998 alone, the value of residential building approvals almost tripled to $190 million.

Jobs in the area have grown by nearly 34 per cent in the past decade and the unemployment rate now averages around 5 per cent – down from 10.5 per cent in 1992.

It was inspiring to see the gains that have been made and the potential for a very positive future in the area.

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