“Instead of the priority being debt reduction, this budget focuses on jobs in Western Australia,” McGowan said.
And just like that, the work Labor did to stop the growth of debt was canceled, with barely an explanation.
Of course, this has to be put in the context of the astonishing luck of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, which includes royalties on iron ore that are flooding state coffers (an additional $ 2.3 billion since the start of the Year) and a multibillion-dollar settlement of the GST dispute with the Commonwealth. All of this will keep the AO budget in surplus even as it increases spending over the next four years.
This will include more money to increase the police force to 800, not as a campaign pledge, but locked in the budget. A competent electoral campaign.
Those who ran the gauntlet of Mr McGowan’s hard frontier could be forgiven for raising an eyebrow upon hearing that Labor will spend an additional $ 314 million to make WA the most guarded state in the Commonwealth.
According to the government, it was Police Commissioner Chris Dawson who requested additional troops.
But just two weeks ago he said the state was in the throes of a lull in crime. He said assaults in Northbridge fell by around 20% while break-ins across the state were more than halved. Although hundreds of officers have been assigned to the border police, many more have been released to work on organized crime.
While all of that could change as life returns to normal in the west, the hard borders won’t change anytime soon, at least not before the March election, if budget assumptions are correct.
Even though Mr McGowan says the hard border was not motivated by economic protectionism, there is no doubt that it is a real consequence.
Whenever the Prime Minister swears black and blue it’s really about health advice, his next sentence is usually something like “it’s because of the hard border that we were able to relax the restrictions and have all this economic activity”.
Fair enough. But on Thursday Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “Economic protectionism, locking people in the state so they don’t spend money in other parts of this country, well, it’s not the Australian way. “
For WA Labor, it doesn’t matter what the Prime Minister says. The Prime Minister is leading his own race in the March election, even though he is now saddled with a debt of his own making.
He hopes voters, in an act of generosity against the coronaviruses, will postpone the political costs of what will one day be a massive payment of electoral interest.