A Warm Welcome!
2014! Happy New Year!
After a short Christmas break my office reopened on 6th January.
Over the past year the State government announced many achievements and initiatives across all government portfolios.
Key announcements included:
- The new Children’s Hospital will be named Perth Children’s Hospital and capacity was increased to 298 beds.
- The number of metropolitan councils will be reduced from 30 to 14 by June 2015.
- The sinking of the Fremantle rail line was completed – on time and on budget – as a major milestone in the Perth City Link project. Trains are now running through the tunnel.
- Free off-peak travel on public transport to carers was extended.
- The new $93million Perth Police Complex in Northbridge was opened.
- A new $22.4million teacher training program was announced as part of preparations to move year 7s to secondary school in 2015.
- Implementing two-monthly billing for water to make it easier for customers to manage payments by spreading annual costs over six bills.
- Agreeing for Western Australia to join the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), with three launch sites, two run along the lines of the West Australian ‘My Way’ model and one based on the Commonwealth model.
- Reforming residential design codes to provide more housing flexibility, including granny flats.
- New tenancy laws to make it fairer for renters by limiting option fees and the amount of rent paid in advance.
- A new $41.5million five-year funding agreement with Scitech was signed.
For the full list released by the Premier click here
The government also announced changes to the way in which we fund education. Despite what many have said, the education budget is not being cut. In fact, one out of every four dollars of the State Budget goes on education. In the 2013-14 financial year the government will provide an additional $300 million to the education budget as outlined in the graphic below.
Please click to view and enlarge
However, I do acknowledge that many schools face changes to their funding arrangements this year due to increasing population, and I have been speaking to school principals and communities about this issue. (WA public schools are experiencing a record number of enrolments, with numbers up 3% in 2013 compared to the previous year. In 2013 there were 276,275 students from kindergarten to year 12 enrolled in public schools).
A new model of education funding is being introduced to deliver a fairer system in which funding will be allocated on a child by child basis, based on individual needs, rather than by school types or programs. Under the new student-centred funding model, schools will receive a base amount for each student, with additional funding to help children with extra needs (including Aboriginal students, students facing social disadvantage, students with English as a second language and students with disability). It is expected that the new funding model will be introduced in time for the 2015 school year.
I wish you a happy and prosperous New Year,