Two budgets = too much excitement

TWO budgets in one week. Too much excitement for a man of my advanced years, particularly when senior citizens take a hit in both.

Baby boomers fared relatively lightly in the Australian federal budget compared with the Western Australian state budget two days later.

Australia’s largest state — which only a couple of years ago was enjoying a mining boom – is facing a record debt of $36 billion. Already juggling with pension adjustments in the federal budget, WA retirees will be forced to tighten their belts still further with a 4.5% increase in power and water bills and a $99 slug on each vehicle to pay for a new no fault insurance scheme for road accidents. Rates and power concessions will be means tested and age eligibility for seniors discounts will be raised.

It’s enough to test the whole concept of this boomingmarvellous blog!

The budget we had to have, said WA Treasurer Mike Nahan, citing the twin financial constraints of falling royalties from plummeting commodity prices and the abysmal feedback of GST (VAT equivalent) revenue.

Every Western Australian is contributing an average of $2376 per year to the GST… and getting back only $714. The current 30c in the dollar return compares with Victoria’s 89c, NSW at 95c and, at the other end of the spectrum, Tasmania at $1.82 and Northern Territory at $5.57.

The idea is that the rich states will support the poor states, but something is seriously wrong here, we all mumble, as we down another glass of red wine.

As we move on to the second glass of red wine, the dinner party talk turns once again to secession. It’s been a recurring theme whenever Canberra turns the screws on the ‘forgotten state’, so called because we are so far from the seat of power and offer too few votes to make a difference.

There was even a referendum in 1933 which carried locally but failed when presented as a petition in London. As recently as 2013, a New York Times opinion piece grouped Western Australia with Scotland, Wales, Catalonia and the Basque Region as “places seeking maximum fiscal and policy autonomy from their national capitals”.

Len Horne

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