WA budget: magic public service cuts that don’t hurt the public

The Western Australian budget hinges on “best practice” public service cuts which the Treasurer says the public and business owners will barely feel, as well as big reductions in the IT spend.

The Western Australian government has posted its first deficit in 15 years because it faces the toughest economic and fiscal environment in twice that long, according to Treasurer Mike Nahan. But he promises to claw that back through public sector cuts that won’t hurt businesses or households very much at all.

As the mining state looks sadly at the deflated iron ore price, its Treasury has posted a deficit for the current financial year, going deeper into the red next year before it gets back on an upward trajectory. Nahan claimed the government could achieve “a strong return to surplus” in 2017-18 in his budget speech, and said:

“We will achieve this by vigorously pursuing reforms and efficiencies throughout the public sector. Impacts on businesses and households will be kept to a minimum.”

Expenditure reviews have already identified $137 million in savings over four years from the departments of the Attorney General, Commerce, Agriculture and Food, Training and Workforce Development, and Fisheries, Parks and Wildlife. The WA government pledges to find even more by applying the same efficiency blowtorch to Culture and the Arts and the Department of Finance.

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