Regional Capitals Alliance of WA Government Forum and Networking lunch – Perth

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, Assistant Minister for the Public Service

An enduring commitment to Western Australia

As I said last year, the Government’s dedication to regional Australia – and WA – is unfailing.

I know what you know: the West is the best.

Our commitment starts at the top.

The Prime Minister knows Western Australia well.

Before the last election, he said he would visit our state ten times each year.

And he has kept his word.

In the two years since the election, he has visited WA 21 times.

And he has brought the entire Federal Cabinet with him on three of those occasions.

He has holidayed here too.

The Prime Minister understands how important Western Australia is to the whole nation.

As he said in Perth last month:

“Western Australia is front and centre when it comes to our future agenda for economic growth. …

No state [is] better positioned to take advantage of the transition that’s occurring in the global economy than this great state of Western Australia.”

I could not agree more.

Our state has a wealth of natural resources.

We have high-quality research and technology nous.

Our businesses and workers are among the world’s best.

And we have a crucial role to play in the renewable energy transformation.

Cost of living relief for every WA taxpayer and every WA household

Last month we released the 2024 Budget.

It forecasts our second surplus.

Australia’s first back-to-back surpluses in nearly two decades.

Put it this way.

The last time Australia had back to back surpluses:

Lithium carbonate was at $2,750 a tonne.

Albany had 8,000 fewer residents

And from Broome to Esperance, you wouldn’t find a single iPhone.

It has been a long time coming.

So our government is rightly proud to have delivered two surplus budgets.

And we are getting the balance right between cost of-living relief right now.

And securing Australia’s economic future.

Building a Future Made in Australia.

Western Australia – and especially our regions – are key to this mission.

Our new tax cuts for middle Australia are the biggest part of the cost-of-living relief in the Budget.

From July 1, all 13.6 million taxpayers will get a tax cut.

1.2 million Western Australians will get a bigger tax cut.

From July 1, every Australian household will also get energy price relief.

A $300 energy rebate per household – and $325 for every small business.

For Western Australians, this is on top of the electricity credit announced in the State Budget.

So WA’s 1.1 million households will receive $700 each in electricity credits over the next year.

And 90,000 small businesses across WA will get $725 each over the same period.

Meaningful and direct cost-of-living relief for people right across our regional capitals.

Investing in housing is another priority for us.

You do not need me to tell you that housing is a major issue in regional WA.

So we’re working closely with the State Government to fix it.

For people struggling to pay their rent, we have increased rent assistance by 40 per cent since coming to office.

Our Government is investing $32 billion dollars to build more houses and provide more housing services.

That’s the biggest ever commitment of any government to housing.

$32 billion dollars.

Because we know the key to dealing with this issue is increasing supply.

Access to GPs, and mental health care, are also big issues in regional communities.

And I know how much pressure our regional health services are under.

So the Budget includes funding for 29 new Medicare Urgent Care Clinics.

A number of these will be in regional Australia.

We started this program two years ago – and already, it has been a big success.

The seven existing urgent care clinics in WA saw more than 20,000 patients last year alone.

Helping people in Bunbury, Broome and Perth access urgent care and taking pressure off major hospitals.

The Prime Minister is a former Minister for Local Government.

So he understands first-hand what a difference local services like these can make.

And he is determined to put regional Australia front and centre of the national agenda.

All roads lead to Western Australia

It is infrastructure that connects our regional capitals across WA.

Connecting our people and communities.

And it is infrastructure that connects our economy to the world.

Last month, we announced a 50-50 funding split between the federal and state governments towards planning works to support the development of Westport.

This includes planning a new port at Kwinana, with connecting road and rail infrastructure.

This is a project that has been talked about for so decades.

We are determined to make it a reality.

The Westport project will remove barriers.

It will power future trade growth in WA.

Creating jobs in our regions – and boosting exports to our Indo-Pacific neighbours.

We’re also delivering on our commitment to upgrade port facilities in the Pilbara.

This is a national infrastructure priority.

Our $565 million investment in common user port upgrades will help expand import and export capacity.

Like the Tonkin Highway corridor, the Outback Way, and priority upgrades to the Wheatbelt Secondary Freight Network.

We are making major investments in the Great Northern and Great Eastern Highways, too.

I am pleased the Albany Ring Road – now known as Menang Drive – officially opened last month.

This is the biggest road infrastructure project ever undertaken in the Great Southern region.

It will divert about 600 trucks from Albany’s small roads each day, improving freight efficiency and boosting the competitiveness of exports from the port.

It will improve traffic flow and safety, and help grow Albany as a beautiful tourist destination, too.

I know many of you have also been calling for more investment in regional airports, which sustain local economies and help people move around the country.

I am confident the extra $40 million in the Budget for regional airports will make a real difference.

As will the additional $50 million we have allocated to improve the safety of remote airstrips.

We want regional Australia to thrive now and in the years ahead.

And we are putting regions like yours at the centre of decision-making through our Regional Investment Framework.

The RCAWA called for this.

And we listened.

Because we understand the importance of partnering with local councils and communities.

To deliver targeted, place-based solutions to the issues you face and turn local values into national results.

Building the economic architecture of a renewable energy superpower

For critical minerals and renewable industries, diversifying trade in the Pilbara and unlocking economic growth.

Western Australia will play a hugely important role in our nation’s energy transformation.

It will be WA’s regions that generate renewable energy and export it to the world.

It will be WA’s regions that position Australia as a significant player in the critical minerals market.

To support this, we are investing an additional $566 million over 10 years in Geoscience Australia.

To map the geological potential of our entire country, in our soil and under our seabed.

We will know your regions better than ever.

Pinpointing the location of thousands of tonnes of critical minerals and strategic materials we need for clean energy and its technology.

As well as traditional minerals like iron ore and gold.

And new sites for securing Australia’s place in the hydrogen economy.

This landmark investment shows we are putting the resources industry at the heart of our Future Made in Australia plan.

No state will benefit more than WA.

The Liberal-National Party’s nuclear reactors will reduce investment in WA

Now, to the topic that is on everyone’s mind.

Does Western Australia need nuclear power?

I note the CEO of Synergy says nuclear power is unlikely to work on WA’s energy grid.

I also note that our plan, our costings, our 2030 and 2050 are all there for everyone to see.

Investing in the transition here and now, and in the skills transition that will benefit Western Australian generations to come.

Investing $32.75 million over 5 years to establish Australia’s first TAFE Clean Energy Skills National Centre of Excellence here in WA.

Providing $3 billion in loans and equity investment to Western Australia, to build and upgrade transmission lines in the North and South West Interconnected Systems.

This alone will support around 1,800 construction jobs.

Adding to a thousand jobs created by the Pilbara Hydrogen Hub.

900 jobs in at the Kathleen Valley Lithium Project, north of Kalgoorlie.

And, crucially, the hundreds of jobs we have planned to create in Collie as part of our renewable energy transition.

Builders, concreters, electricians, plumbers, fitters, and technicians.

Collie will become Australia’s largest energy storage site, with three separate battery projects planned for the community.

Supported by the Cook and Albanese Governments’ investments in transmission, storage and infrastructure.

Because we know WA is poised to take advantage of the renewable energy transition.

Peter Dutton’s nuclear reactors will mean ripping billions out of WA.

This reckless reactor plan kills investment in our regions.

No investment in critical minerals.

No investment in the hydrogen industry.

And no investment in renewable energy for Port Hedland.

No investment in wind energy in Bunbury.

The only dollars WA will see will be in the 2030s, in just one location.


The Liberal National plan means years of uncertainty for Collie.

Muja D will close in 2029.

The Liberal National plan will not deliver a nuclear plant until 2050.

More than 20 years of nothing.

An entire generation ignored.

A nuclear power plant south of Perth in 2050 means that we will have 25 years of stagnation.

The waste will be stored in Collie beyond 2100.

For the entire life of the reactor.


So thank you for welcoming me today.

I hope to see many of you again at the Australian Council of Local Government in Canberra next month.

This will build on the success of last year’s forum – which was the first in a decade.

We recognise the importance of what you do.

We value your input and partnership immensely.

I will always work with you to make sure Western Australia’s contribution is properly understood in Canberra.

And next month’s forum will give you the chance to engage directly with other federal ministers on the most important issues in your local areas.

This sort of engagement is vital for your communities, for WA, and for our nation.

As the Prime Minister said at the opening of the first Australian Council of Local Government 15 years ago:

“Local government has evolved into the third tier of this federation, the level of government closest to the community … We have much to work together on.”

Thank you.

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