McGowan talks up WA after S&P rating

WA Premier Mark McGowan talked up his government's economic management ahead of Saturday's election.
WA Premier Mark McGowan talked up his government's economic management ahead of Saturday's election.

The West Australian premier has championed his government's COVID-era economic management after global credit rating agency S&P deemed the state's economy the best in the world.

But Mark McGowan also encouraged the federal government to give tailored support to pandemic-hit businesses when JobKeeper ends in late March.

With less than a week until locals head to the polls, S&P found WA - spurred by a skyrocketing iron ore price and boom in mining royalties - had performed better than any other state or region in the world over the past 12 months.

The state will run a 2020/21 cash deficit equivalent to 0.6 per cent of state revenue, significantly better than second-placed North Rhine Westphalia in Germany or the next-best Australian state, Queensland.

The S&P analysis, published in The Australian, also found WA's debt as a percentage of operating revenue was the lowest in the world at 91.8 per cent.

Consumer confidence in WA is also at an 11-year high.

"We've turned around the finances, turned $3 billion deficits into $3 billion surpluses, kept the mining industry - and the royalties that come from it - open at the height of the pandemic," Mr McGowan told reporters on Monday.

"If we're lucky enough to be re-elected, that will continue.

"The fact of the matter is that our economy is going very well."

Mr McGowan's Labor is considered a near-certainty to win Saturday's ballot, with polls predicting the Liberals could be reduced to a handful of seats.

But he warned the post-JobKeeper economic climate could be challenging for many WA locals if tailored support isn't extended beyond March 28.

"The international borders will stay in place, I would expect, for the rest of this year, and therefore some tourism businesses will find it difficult," he said.

"If (the federal government) wants to keep a form of JobKeeper in place beyond the end of March for those sorts of industries, I'd support it."

Labor on Monday made a $6.7 million pledge to improve disability access and employment, and said their commitments to the state's TAFE system if they win Saturday's election add up to $187 million.

Treasury estimates the policies submitted by Labor to date will add $2.2 billion to net debt over the next four years, with the final number published this week.

WA on Monday also recorded no new local COVID-19 cases and two in hotel quarantine, and had vaccinated more than 7000 people.

Mr McGowan also revealed on Monday his NSW-based parents had last week driven across the Nullarbor and joined him in WA for the election's final stretch.

It's the first time he has seen his parents since the pandemic began.

Opposition Leader Zak Kirkup - a first-term Liberal MP who has only held the reins since November - has all but accepted electoral defeat, instead warning what Labor might do if it claims "total control" of parliament.

He insisted he'd received enough support from his federal counterparts, despite Prime Minister Scott Morrison avoiding WA over the campaign.

Australian Associated Press