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HON Colin Barnett MEc MLA

Premier; Minister for Tourism; Science

Premier's Statement to Parliament

17 February 2015

From The Honourable Colin Barnett MEc MLA

Premier; Minister for State Development; Science

The Premier's Statement provides the House with an outline of the Government's legislative and policy priorities for the forthcoming year.

Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge the firefighters, support crews, operations staff, police, army personnel and volunteers that have helped battle fires throughout Western Australia over the summer.

Since the start of the bushfire season there have been close to 2,500 fires. While some houses, sheds, farm equipment and livestock were lost, the efforts of hundreds of career and volunteer firefighters saved many homes and other properties – and quite possibly the entire town of Northcliffe.

Mr Speaker, the Liberal National Government is now in its seventh year. We continue to provide stable government through both good and difficult times. This stability and strength for our State is in sharp contrast to the rest of Australia.

As the economy comes off a peak, a solid plan, sound policy, a strong team and steady stewardship is what West Australians deserve and will get from the Government.

This year will be a year of consolidation, as we deliver on our commitments and deal with a more difficult financial situation.

As all Members are aware, 2015 is the centenary of the ANZACS. Western Australia was proud to begin the nation's commemorations in Albany last November, to mark the departure of the first ANZAC convoys. At the weekend, around 1.4 million people watched The Giants enact a tale inspired by the ANZAC story of the young girl in the Breaksea Island lighthouse, who became the last human contact in Australia for troops leaving for Gallipoli. It was a spectacular and poignant way to remind us all of the sacrifices of the ANZACS, and tell an ANZAC story to the children of today.

Perth is transforming

Our capital city is transforming in a way not seen for more than 100 years. Perth is a hive of construction activity with major projects such as the City Link, Elizabeth Quay, Perth Children's Hospital and Perth Stadium, as well as other private sector developments like the Old Treasury Building, Queens Riverside and Kings Square.

By the end of this year, West Australians and visitors will be enjoying the Swan River from Elizabeth Quay, sick children will be cared for at Australia's newest children's hospital, and tower cranes and roof trusses will be up at the new Perth Stadium.

Perth is a thriving mix of restaurants, small bars, live entertainment, public artwork, global and domestic retail outlets, pop-up venues, and international sporting events, like the Socceroos World Cup qualifier to be held this year. Northbridge is not only a safe place to take your family, it is dynamic and colourful. Previously dead spaces around the art gallery and William Street are now bustling with people and are the centre of events like Fringe World and the Perth International Arts Festival.

Many of the new venues in Perth are in heritage buildings and are great examples of sympathetic renewal of previously vacant spaces. This year the Liberal National Government will introduce a new Heritage Bill to ensure we strike the right balance between good heritage practice and development needs.

A shortage of hotel rooms has for many years hindered Perth's tourism potential. Several new hotels are now under construction including Crown Towers and the Treasury Precinct Hotel. To come are new luxury hotels at the old FESA House site in East Perth, Ritz-Carlton and Hilton hotels at Elizabeth Quay, and the redevelopment and expansion of the Rottnest Lodge.

The Government will introduce a City of Perth Act this year, to ensure Perth has the status it should hold as Australia's west coast capital.

INVESTMENT IN INFRASTRUCTURE

Mr Speaker, it is not only Perth that is transforming. The Liberal National Government has seized the opportunity to pursue a bold investment agenda right across Western Australia. In doing so, thousands of jobs in construction, service industries and small business have been created.

Since coming to office in 2008, the Liberal National Government has invested $40 billion in infrastructure. A further $23.5 billion will be invested throughout the State over the next four years so Western Australia is well positioned to cope with continuing population growth over future decades.

We have borrowed to make some of these investments. This has seen an increase in State debt but it is important to point out that more than 90 per cent of that debt is made up of borrowings to pay for power, water and other essential infrastructure like roads and hospitals.

This year will see a return on many of the investments the Government has made to rebuild and substantially upgrade infrastructure, particularly in health, education and transport.

Hospitals

The results of the $7 billion rebuild of the State's hospital system will be well and truly evident in 2015. Australia's newest and most sophisticated tertiary hospital, Fiona Stanley Hospital, is now fully operational and by the end of the year the new Perth Children's Hospital and the new Midland Public Hospital will be complete.

The new Busselton Health Campus will open next month. The final stages of the redeveloped health campuses at Kalgoorlie and Broome will be completed this year. Upgrades of hospitals in Carnarvon and Exmouth are under way, and planning for a new hospital at Onslow will begin. Contracts will be awarded for the new Karratha Hospital, due to start construction next year.

This is in addition to more than half a billion dollars being spent in the State's south for improvements to hospitals in towns from Esperance to Merredin.

Schools

At the start of school this year, four new government schools opened their doors, as well as the rebuilt Mount Lawley Primary School, which I was pleased to open just two years after it was destroyed by fire.

Over the past six years, 28 new primary schools, nine new secondary schools and 13 replacement schools have opened.

This is the only State where the proportion of students in government schools is growing: a huge vote of confidence in public education. It is also testament to the Liberal National Government's investment in government schools and to the reforms we have undertaken to ensure every Western Australian child has an opportunity to access the very best quality education.

Of course, the earlier those learning opportunities can happen, the better. That is why the Liberal National Government has committed $48.7 million for 16 Child and Parent Centres on school sites, for families of greatest need. Ten centres have already opened and another six will be completed this year. These centres are giving young children and parents access to services like child health clinics, playgroups and parenting classes. This commitment is one of the most important the Liberal National Government has made to ensure children who are most at risk of falling through the cracks are given the very best start in life and at school.

Transport

The Government has a comprehensive transport plan to ease congestion, improve safety and ensure transport links in the city and across the State are efficient.

This year, the Kwinana Freeway widening will be completed and major milestones will be achieved on the $1 billion Gateway Project around the airport, ahead of its completion next year.

Work in preparation for construction of the largest single transport project by any State Government in Western Australia, the $2billion Forrestfield Airport Link (FAL), will continue.

Construction will also kick off on the Perth Stadium train station, the Aubin Grove train station and the multi-storey car park at Edgewater train station. Twenty one rail carriages will come on line to continue to ease congestion on our trains.

The $40million upgrade of the Bindi Bindi Bends on the Great Northern Highway, the scene of too many heavy vehicle crashes, will soon be completed.

Suburbs

Mr Speaker, I've spoken about Perth's transformation but the Government is also investing in the suburbs and outlying areas of the city , to improve facilities and services close to where the majority of West Australians live.

Southern Suburbs

The Perth Freight Link will create an east-west freight connection between Kewdale, Fremantle Port and southern industrial areas, and take heavy vehicles off roads and highways through southern suburbs. Contracts will be awarded in the second half of this year, with construction starting early next year.

This project, in conjunction with the two extra southbound lanes on Kwinana Freeway, will bring enormous benefits for residents moving in and around Perth's southern suburbs, and into and out of the city.

Planning for the Mangles Bay Marina in Rockingham is well under way. The Marina will add more than just boat pens to Rockingham, it will be a tourism drawcard and a great boost to the local economy.

Eastern Suburbs

In 2020, residents of Perth's eastern suburbs will be able to access the city in a 20 minute train ride on the Forrestfield Airport Link. Planning of the stations at Belmont and Forrestfield is under way. The Government will this year introduce legislation to authorise construction of the railway along the finalised route.

Midland is undergoing a revitalisation. Central to this is the magnificent Midland Public Hospital, due to open this year. The Government will continue to work with Curtin University to establish a medical school adjacent to the hospital, to bring a university presence to the east metropolitan area, with courses in ancillary health and other fields such as education and engineering.

Northern suburbs

The northern suburbs of Perth are one of Australia's fastest growing regions. With growth, comes the need for improvements to transport links to ease congestion and improve traffic flow.

This year, contracts will be awarded for the $322million extension of Mitchell Freeway to Hester Avenue. Work will begin early next year.

Projects at Balcatta, Carine and Malaga under way this year will improve safety and reduce congestion at major intersections on Reid Highway.

As part of our plan to locate health services close to where people live, a new paediatric ward at Joondalup health campus will begin construction this year.

The Government will also progress the relocation of a large number of public servants to Joondalup, which will have obvious economic benefits for Joondalup, as well as ease congestion around Perth.

Coastal suburbs

Suburbs west of Perth are home to world class sporting facilities, and this year, sport takes another step forward with the opening of the State Netball Centre in Wembley and the WA Institute of Sport High Performance Centre in Mt Claremont.

The Liberal National Government will invest $30 million in the redevelopment of the Scarborough beachfront, which will unlock Scarborough's tourism potential as one of Australia's best beachfront destinations. Foreshore works will begin this year.

Regions

No Government has done more to improve the liveability and economic capacity of regional Western Australia than the Liberal National Government. Those living in and visiting the regions have benefitted from $4.2 billion invested across 3,500 projects funded through the Royalties for Regions program over the past six years, in addition to funding provided through government agencies.

The investment continues this year with new or improved facilities ranging from a community centre in Hopetoun, to an arts centre in the Goldfields, from an aquatic centre in Mandurah, to more mobile phone towers in areas with poor mobile coverage.

Work will begin on a new Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPAW) headquarters in Bunbury – a significant step toward establishing Bunbury as the major centre of State Government administration outside Perth. DPAW will be the first relocation of a major department to a regional centre.

Economy

Mr Speaker, as I have said, 2015 will be a year of consolidation for the Liberal National Government - a year when many of the decisions taken, commitments made and plans put in place over the past six and a half years, are realised.

This comes at the right time for the Western Australian economy, which is slowing after a period of unprecedented economic growth. As economic activity returns to more normal levels, growth is forecast to ease to 2.25 per cent this year.

As a commodity-based, export oriented economy, we are exposed to the vagaries of commodity prices and the exchange rate. A 40 per cent decline in iron ore prices and the recent drop in oil prices are having a big impact on the State Budget, with a decline in royalty revenue of $1.7 billion in this financial year alone.

After successive healthy surpluses, these sharp declines will take us into deficit this year. But it is the Government's intention to work hard to return to a strong surplus in two years, if not sooner.

This remains a difficult proposition while we are encumbered with the current unfair, unstable and farcical GST distribution system, which remains the State's biggest fiscal challenge. This year, $3.6 billion of GST revenue will be taken from Western Australia and gifted to the other States and Territories.

I am heartened by the Federal Treasurer's recent move to request the Commonwealth Grants Commission to look at the issue of the lag in revenue payments. It is a move in the right direction but there is a long way to go. The Government will continue to vigorously argue the case for change to the GST distribution, so that it is allocated on a population basis.

Mr Speaker, while the slowdown in economic growth is putting pressure on Government finances, business investment is easing and the job market is tightening, the fundamentals of the Western Australian economy are still strong:

  • We now account for more than half of Australia's merchandise exports;

  • Our Gross State Product per capita is 53 per cent higher than the national average;

  • Long term growth forecasts are stronger than any other State; and

  • Western Australia's unemployment rate remains the lowest of any Australian State and significantly lower than the national average.

The weaker Australian dollar, low interest rates and growth in new housing construction are also positive notes. The construction industry has hit an all-time high with over 145,000 people employed, supporting a record 29,000 new home starts last year.

The Government is responding to increasing demand for housing with its successful affordable housing strategy, including initiatives such as redeveloping social housing on large blocks. In fact, we will reach our target of 20,000 affordable housing opportunities by 2020 this year, five years ahead of schedule.

Fiscal Management

Mr Speaker, in response to the deterioration in the revenue outlook since the last Budget, the Government has introduced revenue and savings measures totalling $3.8 billion over four years. This includes an efficiency dividend and reductions in procurement. We need to do more with less.

This year, we will be targeting procurement and contract management savings across government, particularly in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) services. The Government is considering the appointment of a Chief Information Officer to coordinate, consolidate and prioritise our ICT objectives, to achieve better value for money and improve services to the community. The role will not only work across government but with the ICT industry to support growth.

We have also reduced the size of the public sector through voluntary redundancy schemes, tied public sector wages to CPI and put a cap on agencies salary budgets.

The Government is taking a careful and considered approach to the budget challenges. Our focus is to rein in expenditure so that we can return to surplus as soon as possible.

Asset and Land Sales

The Government has also begun a measured program of asset and land sales to help keep debt at manageable levels.

This year, two pieces of legislation will be introduced into Parliament to support the first tranche of government asset sales: the port handling facilities in Kwinana and Port Hedland; and Market City in Canning Vale. It is anticipated the sale of these three assets alone will generate between $1 billion and $2 billion. The Government has also identified an initial 20 key parcels of land for sale.

We will continue to examine other assets for sale. We will not be selling public utilities.

State Development

Some of the world's biggest resource projects under construction in Western Australia will reach major milestones this year:

  • The $55 billion Gorgon LNG project will export its first shipment of gas at the end of this year;

  • Redevelopment of the airport, waste water treatment plant and road construction in Onslow will be completed this year as the $31 billion Wheatstone project continues towards operational start-up in 2016;

  • The first iron ore shipments from the $10 billion Roy Hill project are expected by the end of this year.

New projects like Anketell Port and Rail and Browse Gas will also present fresh opportunities for employment in regional economies.

Mr Speaker, as Western Australia is poised to become one of the world's largest producers of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), it is important that we have certainty around domestic gas supplies. In November last year, the Government successfully negotiated a new agreement from the North West Shelf joint venture for additional LNG exports and a domestic gas obligation of 700 petajoules over the life of the agreement.

This agreement will be formalised through an amendment to the North West Gas Development (Woodside) Agreement Act.

The Liberal National Government will continue to work with industry to ensure Western Australia gets domestic gas and an onshore supply base from the development of resources in the Browse Basin.

With the State's gas industry reaching a new level of maturity and iron ore expansions progressing, the Government will continue our efforts to strengthen established relationships with our long-standing trading partners in Asia.

We will also continue to build relationships with the nations of the Indian Ocean Rim, which present real opportunities for Western Australian products, companies and technologies. Last year, I travelled to Africa to develop our links in mining and mining services. I intend to travel to India this year to capitalise on opportunities presented by that growing economy.

Jobs

Mr Speaker, Western Australia is still the best place to be in Australia if you have a job or want a job.

Nevertheless, there have been job losses as some resource projects move into operational phase and lower commodity prices squeeze resource companies.

Fortunately, some of the job losses have been offset by employment in housing construction and on government projects under way in Perth. Elizabeth Quay, City Link, the Gateway Project, the Perth's Children's Hospital and the new stadium are generating 26,000 jobs and thousands more indirect jobs for hundreds of small businesses.

The Government will continue its reforms in training to better prepare people for real jobs, by significantly subsidising training places in more than 600 priority qualifications. We need more qualified trades people and apprentices in traditional and technical industries that will continue to provide long term career opportunities for young people.

The Liberal National Government understands that there is job uncertainty and families are concerned about job security. Now, more than ever, it is important to ensure businesses can build capacity and increase competitiveness, creating long term job opportunities beyond the resource sector.

Red tape reduction

The Government will back business, small and large, by getting out of the way and doing more to cut red tape.

The Liberal National Government has made good progress on streamlining, fast tracking and modernising processes and regulations in: retail; planning; housing; building and construction; hospitality; farming; and mining. This has cut approval waiting times, removed nonsensical laws, and reduced administrative costs for thousands of businesses and residents.

This year, we will continue our reform agenda in a number of areas to ensure small businesses can grow and create more jobs for West Australians.

Trading Hours Reform

Building on the progress already made to expand trading hours, including Sunday trading, the Liberal National Government will this year continue to address anomalies in trading hours regulation.

Planning Reform

The Government has responded to unprecedented population growth with the most extensive planning reforms in 50 years, reducing unnecessary administration and delays to approvals. For example, we have cut approval times for subdivision applications from 15 days to two days and halved the time taken to amend Metropolitan Region and Town Planning schemes.

From 1 July this year, you will no longer need planning and building approvals for R-code compliant single residential dwellings before starting construction.

Liquor Licensing Reform

Since 2008, the number of small bars in Western Australia has grown from 13 to 95. This year, the Liberal-National Government will introduce two Bills to amend liquor licensing legislation to further reduce red tape, making it easier to renew non-contentious trading permits and allowing producers to sell wine from their own retail outlet. These amendments will also make provision for secondary supply offences.

Mining and Agriculture Reforms

This year we will introduce amendments to the Mining Act to deliver cost and time savings for industry estimated to be worth at least $25 million, meaning companies can employ more West Australians and get more projects off the ground.

Amendments to the Environmental Protection Act to improve processes for environmental impact assessments, clearing permits, works approvals and licences will also be introduced this year.

To ensure farmers and other landholders are properly compensated when works are carried out on their property by the State Government, we will progress amendments to land acquisition legislation.

Broadening the Economy

Mr Speaker, the Liberal National Government will continue to focus on broadening the State's economy so we are not as reliant on mining and petroleum and, therefore, exposed to commodity price cycles.

We will do this in a targeted way by building on our natural advantages. This will expand exports, provide opportunities for businesses and create jobs.

Agriculture

The Government is committed to leveraging established relationships based around mining and petroleum, to expand our agricultural exports with our neighbours in Asia, who are concerned about food security and food safety.

The first irrigation trials as part of the $40 million Water for Food project will begin in Derby this year. This bold initiative will open up new farming land from the West Kimberley to the South West of the State.

The application of science to agriculture is a key component in realising more agricultural opportunities. This year, the Government has allocated an additional $75 million to research and development projects aimed at boosting grain productivity, increasing lambing and calving rates, and better managing biosecurity risks.

Science

The Liberal National Government has identified five priority areas in which the application of science can help us broaden the economy and create a new generation of jobs: radio astronomy; biodiversity conservation; mining and energy; agriculture and food; and health and medical research.

By focusing on areas where we have a natural or established advantage, we can realise tangible goals, such as increasing crop yields, lowering the cost of mining or finding cures for medical conditions.

Western Australia can be a scientific leader in our region but, given our small population, we are best placed to lead by collaborating more with our Asian neighbours, in particular China and Singapore, as well as other States. We will focus on strengthening these relationships in science, this year.

Turning young people on to science is vital for our future scientific capacity. This year, the Government will announce a new home for Scitech that will provide greater opportunities to engage and educate children in science.

Environment

Mr Speaker, as I said, biodiversity conservation is a priority area for science. Western Australia's unique environment is, arguably, our greatest natural resource and the Government will introduce a number of Bills this year to better protect the environment.

One of the most important pieces of legislation to be introduced into this Parliament is the Biodiversity Conservation Bill. The State's Wildlife Conservation Act has remained substantially unchanged for 65 years and is no longer relevant to conservation demands of today. The proposed new Act will include significantly increased penalties for damage to plants and animals, and provide greater flexibility and certainty for private landowner conservation initiatives.

The State Government manages more than 28 million hectares of the State's conservation estate, an area larger than Victoria. Amendments to the Conservation and Land Management Act to amalgamate the Marine Parks and Reserves Authority and the Conservation Commission into a single statutory authority, will be introduced, to better manage marine and terrestrial conservation across the State.

This will complement our Parks for People initiative, to get more people enjoying our national parks.

Laws governing fisheries and pearling will also be overhauled with the introduction this year of the Aquatic Resources Management Bill. The Bill will provide a modern framework for the conservation and management of our $1.4 billion a year fishing sectors.

Education

Mr Speaker, this year is an historic year in education in Western Australia, with the implementation and consolidation of a number of important reforms.

The Independent Public Schools program is a genuine education revolution and is now being emulated across Australia. This year, another 178 schools will become Independent Public Schools, bringing the total to 441.

The Liberal National Government has fulfilled its commitment to making Year 7 the first year of high school in Western Australia from this year. It was expensive – nearly $230 million was spent on buildings and facilities - but it was absolutely the right thing to do and the transition has gone smoothly across the State.

This year also sees changes to the senior secondary schooling curriculum and the Western Australian Certificate of Education to ensure school-leavers are better equipped to pursue further education or enter the workforce.

Public schools will receive a record amount of funding in 2015 under a new student-centred funding model. Indeed, funding for education has increased by 61 per cent since 2008. From this year, school funding will be allocated on a student by student basis, ensuring those with additional needs get the support they require, regardless of which school they attend.

Challenging Reform

The Liberal National Government has demonstrated that it is prepared to take on difficult reform, across the public sector and where services to the most vulnerable in our community need to improve.

This year, that commitment will continue in mental health, for people with disabilities and for Aboriginal people in remote communities.

Mental Health

Last year the Government released a 10-year plan for mental health that sets out an agenda to achieve system-wide change, including the staged closure of Graylands Hospital.

This follows passage of the Mental Health Bill through Parliament last year, which will reinforce practical safeguards and ensure the genuine involvement of people with mental illness and their families in their care.

After the success of the sub-acute mental health facility at Joondalup, others will be constructed this year at Rockingham and Broome.

Disability Services

The Government has dealt with the difficult problem of intellectually disabled people being held in prison when they have been unable to enter a plea to a charge. This year, construction of the State's first disability justice centre will be completed and the passage of the Declared Places (Mentally Impaired Accused) Bill will enable the Disability Services Commission to operate this centre.

No-fault Insurance Scheme

The Government will make a decision on the introduction of a no-fault catastrophic insurance scheme for motor vehicle accidents as part of the forthcoming Budget process. We will consider feedback on the green paper released last year before determining how such a scheme might be implemented.

Aboriginal Affairs

In response the Commonwealth's withdrawal of funding for remote communities, the Government's priority is to focus on how to provide opportunities for people, particularly young people, in remote Aboriginal locations. This will require changes to how and where the Government invests its resources. For some communities where children are not cared for, or worse, in danger; job opportunities are scarce; and healthcare is minimal, essential services will not continue to be provided by the State Government. There will be close consultation with Aboriginal people and any transitions will be carefully and respectfully managed.

The South West Native Title Settlement is the most comprehensive proposal of its kind in Australian history. The Noongar community is currently holding meetings to vote on whether they will accept the Government's settlement offer. These meetings will conclude at the end of March.

As part of the settlement, a Noongar Recognition Bill will be progressed in this Parliament, recognising the Noongar people as the traditional owners of the South-West and acknowledging their unique contribution to the heritage, cultural identity and economy of the State.

In 2015, a committee of Members of this Parliament will consider how our Constitution can be amended to acknowledge Aboriginal people across the entire State in a way that affords appropriate respect to Aboriginal history and culture. I acknowledge the role the Member for Kimberley has played.

In October last year, I made a commitment to try to red uce both the number of Aboriginal deaths in custody and the overrepresentation of Aboriginal people in our prison system. The Government has worked over summer and is continuing to consult widely on options that will be considered this year.

Public Sector Reform

The Government's program of reforms to the public sector will continue in 2015.

With the passage last year of the Corruption and Crime Commission Amendment (Misconduct) Bill, public servants suspected of minor misconduct will no longer be investigated by the Corruption and Crime Commission (CCC). Subject to the finalisation of arrangements between the Public Sector Commission (PSC) and the CCC, the PSC will assume this responsibility in the first half of this year.

Legislation to give the independent Salaries and Allowances Tribunal responsibility for setting salaries for CEOs of Government Trading Enterprises will be introduced this year. The Tribunal will ensure that salary packages and increases in salary are kept within reasonable bounds.

The Government will provide clarity and protection to public servants through a proper regime for interactions with political lobbyists. This year, legislation will be progressed to mandate a regime of registration of lobbyists and codes of behaviour governing interactions between lobbyists and public officers.

The notion of a 'job for life' in the Western Australian public sector is coming to an end. From 1 May, public sector employers will have the power to terminate an employee who has no position or useful duties to perform, and if efforts to redeploy and retrain have been unsuccessful.

Law and Order

Mr Speaker, the Liberal National Government has always made community safety a high priority. In keeping with this, the first piece of legislation to be debated in this House this year will create minimum mandatory sentences for serious physical or sexual offences committed during a home burglary. It will also deal with loopholes in the existing three strikes laws.

This year, the Parliament will deal with important amendments to the Road Traffic Act. The first Bill will allow breath-testing immobilisers to be installed in the cars of repeat drink driving offenders. The second Bill will provide for tougher confiscation laws for hooning offences in built up areas and in active school zones.

Although Western Australia is well regarded for road safety initiatives put in place in recent years, the rate of reduction of road fatalities is less than most other jurisdictions. The Government is considering the recommendations of the Browne Review into road safety, including the appointment of a Road Safety Commissioner to coordinate, monitor and evaluate road safety initiatives.

The emergence of dangerous synthetic drugs is a concern for communities throughout the State. The Government will this year introduce legislation to prohibit the sale, supply, manufacture, advertising and promotion of any psychoactive substance. This continues the Liberal National Government's tough, unapologetic stand on the use or sale of illicit drugs.

Mr Speaker, we have all been horrified by despicable acts of terrorism around the world and in Australia recently. This year, the Terrorism (Extraordinary Powers) Act expires, 10 years after it came into effect. The Government will introduce amendments to the Act to expand powers for police such as the scope of search warrants for covert operations, and to create new offences to combat terrorist activities.

CONCLUSION

Mr Speaker, the Liberal National Government has a comprehensive legislative and policy agenda to progress in 2015.

This Government remains as motivated, committed and passionate about improving the lives of West Australians and securing the State's future as we did in 2008.

This will be a year of consolidation, when many of our commitments to rebuild and reform come to fruition.

In a more difficult economic environment and a more volatile political environment, I am proud that the Liberal National Government continues to provide West Australians with stable government.

I look forward to a productive year in this Parliament and wish all Members well for the forthcoming year.

(As at 17-February-2015)