Western Australian Treasurer Rita Saffioti handed down the State’s budget on Thursday 9 May 2024, her first after the retirement of former treasurer and premier Mark McGowan in June 2023.

Focusing on cost-of-living relief, housing affordability, health and education in order to meet the demands of a growing population, Saffioti delivered a surplus – the State’s sixth in a row – of $3.2b in 2023-24 and forecasted a $2.6b net operating surplus for 2024-25. The surplus was largely fueled by stronger than forecasted iron ore royalties and goods and services tax revenue. 

With a massive $1.1b affordable housing spend, the Treasurer noted the State’s population would surpass 3 million next year, with an influx of 94,000 to Western Australia in the last year. The $1.1b investment includes funding for incentives for owners of vacant properties to rent them out, and lowering the stamp duty exemption threshold for first home buyers. 

Net debt is sitting at $28.6b in 2024-25, considerably lower than the $29.4b projected in the previous budget. Net debt is then expected to grow to $40.9b by 2028. The state enjoyed 4.7 per cent growth which is projected to grow to 5.25 per cent in 2023-24 – twice the national rate – largely off the back of increased business investment and population growth. The unemployment rate sits at 3.75 per cent, expected to lift to 4 per cent in 2024-25. 

Key highlights

  • $42.4b infrastructure spend over four years, with $10.6b allocated for 2024-25. 
  • $4b over the next four years to fund the Royalties for Regions initiative. 
  • $3.2 billion to boost health services.
  • $1.3 billion for education and training.
  • $1.1b for social and affordable housing, including $85m to boost the residential construction workforce.
  • $762m in additional cost-of-living relief.
  • $500m for the creation of a new Strategic Industries Fund, to develop the state’s 13 strategic industrial areas, including critical minerals and hydrogen.
  • $324m to upgrade the state’s electricity grid and connect more renewable energy.
  • $79.9m for water and wastewater network upgrades.
  • $64.6m to expand the regional airfare zone cap scheme.
  • $52.3m for apprentices in the building and construction industry.

Revenue Measures

First Home-Owner Transfer Duty Concession

In an effort to ease the financial burden on first home buyers and improve access to the housing market, the Western Australian government announced an increase in the property value threshold for the first home owner transfer duty concession.

Specifically, for first home buyers of established properties, a full exemption from transfer duty will apply for purchases up to $450,000 (previously $430,000), and a concessional rate of duty will be applied for purchases up to $600,000 (previously $530,000).

The increased thresholds will apply to agreements entered into from 9 May 2024 although the required legislation and systems changes are only expected to be implemented by 1 July 2024.  First home buyers who pay duty on agreements entered into between 9 May 2024 and the policy being implemented will be eligible for a refund as necessary.

Existing thresholds for purchases of vacant land by first home owners will remain unchanged – a full duty exemption is available for purchases up to $300,000 and a concessional rate applied for purchases up to $400,000.

Removal of Road User Charge for Zero and Low Emission Vehicles

In the 2022-23 State Budget it was announced that a road user charge on zero and low emission vehicles would be implemented on qualifying vehicles registered in Western Australia from 1 July 2027. However, following the High Court decision in Vanderstock & Anor v State of Victoria [2023] HCA 30 which found that a similar road user charge implemented in Victoria was unconstitutional, the Western Australian government has now announced that it will not proceed with its planned road user charge.

Vacant Property Rental Incentive Scheme

To help increase housing supply in the rental market, the Western Australian government announced that a $5,000 grant will be provided to eligible owners of vacant residential properties who make their property available for long-term rent.

To be eligible, the property is required to be self-contained, have been vacant for at least six months as at 9 May 2024, and be leased under a residential tenancy agreement of at least 12 months by 9 November 2024. The initial investment will provide grants for up to 1,000 properties.

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