Labor in government would shelve the future fund and new museum indefinitely, Opposition Leader Mark McGowan announced today as he accused the Government of ignoring the present day struggles of WA communities.
Mr McGowan used his parliamentary speech in response to last week’s Budget to criticise its centrepiece, the future fund, as illogically timed and full of contradictions.
That allowed the Government to highlight the Opposition’s own confused stance, pointing out shadow arts minister John Hyde released a media statement three days before the Budget calling for the museum to be funded.
Mr McGowan questioned the Government’s justification of investing $1.1 billion of “seed capital” in the fund by 2014-15 when Premier Colin Barnett said eight weeks ago WA’s declining GST share meant public services had to be cut.
He also queried the logic of a future fund when State debt had risen under the Government from $3.4 billion to $18.6 billion.
“In 2016 the future fund will be creating $55 million in net interest,” Mr McGowan said.
“In the same year, the taxpayers will be paying $1.15 billion in net interest costs. That’s the equivalent of one new sports stadium per year used for debt repayments.”
Mr McGowan said investment today in regional roads, public transport in Perth suburbs and science and innovation would benefit future generations far more than a future fund.
He accused the Government of becoming “obsessed with its city-centric projects” including the waterfront, riverside and Perth City Link, which had been allocated a combined $544 million in the Budget and out years.
Arts Minister John Day used question time to goad Mr Hyde over his pre-Budget press release, saying Labor’s plans for the museum would “cause a lot of disgust in the arts community”.
Mr McGowan retorted: “You can go with your woolly mammoth. We’re going to build new police stations.”
Treasurer Christian Porter said Mr McGowan “just didn’t get” the future fund.
“If you are concerned about debt, and instead of leaving $1.1 billion in an account in 2015-16 you spend $1.1 billion … what happens in 2015-16 is this: You increase debt by $1.1 billion,” he said.
“(State Labor) the only political party in history that thinks that you decrease debt by spending 1.1 billion and not saving it.”