mark mcgowan
WA Premier Mark McGowan.

BREAKING: West Australian Premier Mark McGowan has unveiled a slew of policies to provide state-backed loans for apartments near train stations and increase public transport funding, as part of the state’s 2022/23 state budget delivered late Thursday.

Among the key announcements in the budget were a number of measures to improve housing supply, encourage more urban density and improve affordability – including through shared equity.

Here are of the five key announcements that are likely to impact people and businesses working in the sustainability and built environment sector:

1. Kickstart more urban development through Keystart

Through state-owned lender Keystart, WA’s housing authority offers low-deposit home loans to homeowners, as well as shared equity loans where the state offers to take a stake of up to 30 per cent.

As part of the budget, Keystart is set to introduce new loan products for people who buy medium-and high-density developments in inner-city Perth and in priority urban infill areas. This includes areas around train stations and transport hubs that are upgraded as part of the state’s Metronet transport program.

Known as the Urban Connect Home Loan, the new loan product offers borrowers deposits as low as 2 per cent, with no charges to take out lender’s mortgage insurance. The initial pilot of the product will be limited to 200 loans, and will be available for both new and established homes.

In addition, the state government announced it would open up Keystart’s low-deposit home loan program to more people by permanently lifting the income eligibility limits to $105,000 for singles and $155,000 for couples and families.

The move appears to be in line with a recent report recommending more density around train stations.

In addition, off-the-plan apartments in multi-storey buildings sold for less than $500,000 will receive a 100 per cent rebate of stamp duty until the end of October.

2. A boost to build-to-rent

To increase the supply of rental properties on the market, the state will offer a 50 per cent land tax concession to new build-to-rent developments, where apartments are developed for the purposes of renting rather than being sold.

The measure includes a “density subsidy” for developments that include at least five per cent social or community housing.

3. An electric vehicle subsidy drive

The state will set up a $59.3 million Clean Energy Car Fund that will provide $3500 rebates for up to 10,000 electric vehicles with a purchase price below $70,000.

The program is more generous than a similar scheme that previously ran in NSW that offered cash rebates of $3000 for the first 25,000 eligible new EV buyers under $78,000.

To offset fuel excise revenues, the state will impose a road user charge for electric vehicles from 1 July 2027 as fuel excise revenues are expected to decline.

This fund will also invest $22.6 million in new charging infrastructure to expand WA’s electric vehicle charging network, including:

  • $10 million to support not-for-profits and small and medium-sized businesses with grants of up to 50 per cent of installing charging infrastructure
  • $5 million to support local governments to install charging infrastructure by providing grants of up to 50 per cent of the installation cost
  • $4 million for the Public Transport Authority to trial the installation of electric vehicle recharging infrastructure at four train stations, providing up to 20 bays per car park with commuter charging access
  • more than $2.9 million in eight new charging stations across four locations on a section of the National Highway One, between Norseman and Eucla to ensure WA’s charging network extends to South Australia and is the longest in the world

Not-for-profits, small to medium sized businesses and local governments installing workplace recharging infrastructure at their workplaces will receive subsidies of up to 50 per cent, along with funding for a trial of recharging infrastructure at train stations.

4. Climate Action Fund and training boost

Premier McGowan has allocated $31 million for a range of research and planning initiatives that will support a range of industries and government agencies to cut their carbon emissions.

These initiatives will aim to:

  • undertake climate risk assessments, reporting and adaptation planning for government agencies
  • begin transitioning the Public Transport Authority’s bus fleet to electric vehicles
  • reduce emissions and transition the regional heavy transport, freight and agriculture industries to net zero
  • increase carbon farming projects on government managed land
  • create a Carbon Farming Industry Development Plan
  • expand the WA Carbon Dioxide Geological Storage Atlas

The budget also adds $500 million to the state’s Climate Action Fund, building on the $750 million in last year’s budget.

5. Taking Metronet to the next station

The state is adding an additional $1 billion in funding to its Metronet public transport upgrade program.

Key projects the funds will be used for include:

  • additional funding for the Train Control and Signalling project to expand the capacity of the rail network
  • removing the Morrison Road level crossing and upgrading the Canning Bridge Bus Interchange
  • fund bus replacement services during upgrades along the Armadale line

UPDATED 17 May to add more details about the Urban Connect home loan.

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