WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt says cuts to government programs to fund others will continue.Cuts to some WA government programs to fund others will continue in coming budgets, which is bound to annoy someone, the WA treasurer says.
The state’s 2017-18 deficit was forecast in December to hit $2.6 billion, with debt climbing to $37.35 billion, but Ben Wyatt told a business function this week to expect better figures.
Mr Wyatt told reporters on Thursday the budget would be “workman-like”, unsurprising and continue the push to restrain expense growth.
“When you focus on restraining the government footprint, that means some ministers and people will be disappointed,” he said.
“We’ll have to stop programs to fund others that we want to do.”
Asked about the big backlash that followed education cuts, Mr Wyatt said he would “absolutely not” be scared off making similar cuts.
“I think every budget you’ll see for a while yet will have some unpopular decisions,” he said.
“I think every decision I make annoys somebody somewhere.”
Protests continue against the state government’s plan to close a boarding school that caters for fewer than 30 students in regional Moora, but it did back down from axing the School of the Air.
Only one of two key revenue-raising measures in last year’s budget survived – a payroll tax increase – while an aggressive campaign by the gold industry shot down a royalty hike.
Mr Wyatt would not reveal whether the budget would contain any new taxes and said there was always hope the state’s share of the GST would improve, but he but won’t assume anything.
Also on Thursday, a Deloitte Access Economics review of WA Treasury’s revenue forecasting found its iron ore price predictions in recent years were generally inaccurate but very few, if any, other forecasters foresaw the price volatility that unfolded.
Deloitte said WA Treasury’s payroll tax, transfer duty and land tax forecasts were among the most accurate it had examined.
But there was no rigorous, regular review of forecasts by objective parties outside WA Treasury, the company said.