The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

Awash with cash, but only a little to spend

Earlier today, Treasury released its report on the State’s finances, showing a higher-than-expected budget surplus of $2.3 billion. (Other underestimates in the report include the take from State taxes, $650 million more than first expected, and public service salaries, $280 million more.)

This sits alongside the discussion in business pages this week about Midwest Corporation and Murchison Metals duking it out over building a port and railway for iron ore mines near Geraldton. The situation’s become a mess, with past agreements falling apart and Government proposals leaving no one happy in trying to please everyone, though there is motion towards sitting everyone down for a rational discussion. But it’d be nice if the Government could just commit some of that surplus money and be done with it.

Admittedly this is last financial year’s surplus, with big chunks already committed (e.g. to building the new hospital in Murdoch) … it’s just that there still seems to be room to ramp up spending on overworked social services or on infrastructure (as the Chamber of Commerce reiterated today).

The Premier did use the news as an opportunity to announce a moderate jump in funding for the construction of Homeswest accommodation and acquisition of housing land. But if he sticks to his stated plan of not cutting taxes (at least till next year), I’d expect to see more of that money being spent on something useful …

  1. Hang on…. why are we building a new hospital in Murdoch? St J is there already and yes, ok, it’s a private hospital, but wouldn’t it make more sense to put a hospital somewhere where we don’t already have one? Not to mention that Freo isn’t that far away.

  2. The recommendations of the Reid report (which I’m not sure I trust, but they’re being followed anyway) were to downgrade Fremantle and Royal Perth and replace them with an upgraded Charles Gairdner and a new hospital at Murdoch, which’ll sit alongside St John of God rather like how SCGH sits alongside Hollywood Hospital.

    The lure of the site, I believe, was in being next to a university (which still can’t get Federal approval to run a medicine course) as well as next to a train station. Ever since it was announced, the Health Minister has been pointing to it as the prime example of Awesome Things Being Done For Health In WA, or something like that.

Care to leave a comment?