Western Australia Treasurer Ben Wyatt has announced WA’s first surplus of $553 million in five years and a $4.1 billion reduction in state debt. However, there were limited initiatives aimed to help housing affordability and aid the property sector in its recovery, according to the Real Estate Institute of Western Australia (REIWA).

The McGowan government did not increase property taxes, but the allocation of the 2019-2020 WA budget was mostly uninspired, said REIWA President Damian Collins.

“Treasurer Ben Wyatt has considerably revised the state’s economic position due to WA’s increased share of the GST and the surge in commodity prices. This influx of funds should go towards reducing state taxes, particularly stamp duty, and helping first home buyers get into the market through the reintroduction of the First Home Owners Grant for established properties,” he said.

Collins said with coffers fuller than in recent years, it is the time for the state government to remove stamp duty. The treasurer told industry groups, though, that a stamp duty concession for seniors would be considered as WA’s economy improves.

“REIWA is very hopeful that the concession for seniors will be included in the next state budget. Our industry has been crying out for an initiative to kick-start transactions and giving seniors a helping hand will have positive ramifications for everyone as it frees up valuable housing stock for young families,” Collins said.

REIWA said that it was disappointed that the McGowan government has doubled down on its 7% Foreign Owner Duty Surcharge (FODS), despite the new tax having negatively affected building and off-the-plan sales since it was implemented in January 2019.

“In the 2018-19 Budget, the WA government forecast the FODS would bring in $123 million worth of revenue for the state over three and a half years, but in the first five months, a measly $2 million has been raised, with another $1.8 million yet to be collected. All that this new tax has accomplished is further stifling WA’s struggling property market,” Collins said.