Western Australia sells Fremantle Port to pay for major projects

first_imgWestern Australia has suffered greatly in the current mining depression. The State Government of Western Australia will sell, through a long-term lease, Fremantle Port and use the proceeds to retire debt and fund major new projects. Premier Colin Barnett and Treasurer Mike Nahan announced the plans as part of a second tranche of asset sales in the State Budget. Announcing a forecast net operating balance deficit for 2015-16 of A$2.7 billion and a net debt projection of A$31 billion by June 30, 2016, Barnett said the Government had decided to sell Fremantle Port in order to continue the vital task of building the economic infrastructure of the State without adding to debt.“The decision to pursue a sensible program of further asset sales will enable the Government to build new infrastructure to support future growth without putting further pressure on the State’s finances,” Barnett said.Dr Nahan said while the 2014-15 State Budget showed a projected general government operating deficit of A$1.3 billion, this would fall to A$788 million when the recently announced Australian Government contribution of A$499 million for road infrastructure flowed through to the State.“This is a good outcome for Western Australia.  We will build the Forrestfield line, we will get the rolling stock and we will reduce debt,” he said.Nahan said the Government had responded to the ‘perfect storm’ of economic conditions which had seen revenues fall (relative to the estimates included in the 2014-15 Budget) by A$3.9 billion, or 13%, in 2015-16 and A$10.21 billion over the four-year period from 2014-15 to 2017-18.“Commodity prices have plummeted, our share of GST revenue has been driven to record lows and softening economic conditions have directly reduced all other major sources of State tax revenue,” he said.The Treasurer said the Liberal National Government was determined to return the Budget to surplus by vigorously pursuing reforms and efficiencies throughout the public sector while minimising the impact on business and families.The Government has introduced new revenue and savings measures to reap net debt savings totalling A$1.3 billion over the next four years.Image courtesy of Fremantle Portslast_img