Latest figures released in the 2019 Regional Price Index reinforce why the State Government should be providing more relief to regional residents and workers, according to Nationals WA Leader Mia Davies.
Ms Davies said despite the cost of living in seven of the State’s nine regions outside of Perth going up since 2017, the McGowan Government had made no effort to improve living conditions or reduce household costs for families.
“Ever-increasing prices place additional stress on families, households, workers and businesses already doing it tough under a Government that has increased household fees and charges by more than $850 since coming to power,” she said.
“These results show why it is critical for the State Government to continue investing in regional WA so prices are normalised and people are not unfairly disadvantaged by high living expenses.
“This week the McGowan Government released its Mid-Year Review containing almost $1 billion in unplanned spending since May this year, yet very little of that is going to regional WA.
“It is yet another opportunity missed to help rather than hinder people living regionally.”
This year the study took in 39 regional locations, comparing the price of goods and services in those towns to the price of the same in Perth.
Both the Kimberley and Pilbara on average remain 15 per cent more expensive to live, while the average cost of living in regional WA this year was 5.5 per cent higher than in Perth.
Housing proved one of the most severe expenses being 32.7 per cent higher in the Pilbara, while recreation and education combined cost more in every region compared to Perth.
Ms Davies said a sharper focus on regional development would edge the regions towards a more level playing field when it comes to the costs of running a household, having a family and doing business.
“Unfortunately the McGowan Government is uninterested in driving a strong regional development agenda that could help arrest rising costs in the bush,” she said.
“Despite expenses being for the most part higher than Perth, this government is doing little in the way of stimulating economic activity in the regions, decentralising services from Perth, introducing or increasing incentives and attracting people to live, work and invest in regional WA.
“With population growth comes the proliferation of services, private sector investment and competition, which in turn drives down prices and builds local economies to become self-sufficient.”