WA introduces bill to fund public services if COVID-19 delays budget

By Shannon Jenkins

March 18, 2020

Western Australian Treasurer Ben Wyatt, 2019 Budget. AAP Image/Will Russell

The Western Australian government has introduced legislation to ensure public services can continue in the event the state budget is delayed due to the coronavirus.

The bill would provide roughly six months of funds for the 2020-21 financial year, according to Treasurer Ben Wyatt, allowing all public sector workers to be paid and crucial services to continue.

“We know that COVID-19 is an evolving situation, and the state government has been working hard to prepare our state to respond to every potential scenario,” he said on Wednesday.

“This is a sensible measure that will ensure important public services will continue to be delivered to the community and our hard working teachers, nurses and public sector workers can continue to serve the community in responding to COVID-19.”

The 2020-21 state budget was scheduled to be handed down on May 14. While the Financial Management Act 2006 would provide two months’ supply if the budget wasn’t passed, the WA government has argued the “uncertainty of COVID-19 and its impact on the community” have rendered extra precautions necessary.

The Opposition has offered in-principle support for the legislation.

Wyatt noted that “while the challenges facing the state may be unprecedented”, WA has introduced the supply bill before, most recently in 2013 and 2017, when budgets were handed down later than usual due to March state elections.

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