WA election: where will new government's cuts fall?

By David Donaldson

March 13, 2017

As the details are sorted out and briefs supplied following Labor’s win in Western Australia over the weekend, many in the public service will be wondering where the incoming government’s promised budget cuts will fall.

Labor released its plan to return the state budget to surplus by 2020 late last week, outlining $750 million in cuts to the public sector over four years, among other measures.

The cuts will be determined by a “service priority review”.

Outgoing Treasurer Mike Nahan criticised the plan, stating it would require $250 million in cuts per year, which would mean sacking 7500 public servants every 12 months.

“You cannot sack 2500 people each year for the next three years without redundancies,” he said.

But incoming Treasurer Ben Wyatt refused to put a figure on the number of job losses in the public service.

“We do have a public service that is older than other public services around the country and there is an opportunity to recalibrate that age,” he stated.

The state’s budget is in poor condition as the end of the mining investment boom has led to a sharp decline in revenues, leaving government finances in significant deficit. Despite positive mid-year forecast results in December, WA’s budget is still expected to be $3.4 billion in deficit this year.

Labor is ambitiously forecasting a surplus in 2020 of $205 million, by which time debt will be sitting at around $40 billion.

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