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WESTERN Australia’s Liberal Government has handed down its first Budget, delivering a $647 million surplus but warning the state will be in deficit by 2012.

Treasurer Troy Buswell today delivered his first Budget since the Liberal Government came to power last year.

He said the 2008/09 surplus of $647 million would shrink to $409 million in 2009/10, and just $23 million the following year.

By 2011/12 the state will be in deficit to the tune of $513 million.

“Over the past months, as the global economy has been in decline, the state has been hit by large downward revisions to projected taxation revenue, GST grants from the Commonwealth and mining royalties,” Mr Buswell told parliament.

“Since the mid-year review, the Budget has lost a massive $4 billion in forecast revenue from these sources.”

Last year, then treasurer Eric Ripper delivered a surplus of more than $2 billion on the back of a booming commodities sector.

Economic growth remained high at 8 per cent for the 2008/09 financial year.

But forecasts predicted growth would fall into negative territory in 2009/10, with unemployment expected to peak, and business investment to fall by 17.5 per cent.

Mr Buswell said the Government would provide a one-year payroll tax rebate to small businesses with payrolls of up to $3.2 million to help protect jobs.

“Some 6,700 small businesses will be eligible for this payroll tax rebate, which will fully offset payroll tax for around 68,000 employees,” he said.

“The cost of this rebate is estimated at $100 million.”

A $47 million jobs training and skills package, and a $8.3 billion spend on infrastructure in the next financial year are key components of the Budget.
Mr Buswell said law and order were also strong focuses, in line with the Government’s election promises to boost funding for police and pump more money into prisons

Mr Buswell said the Government’s election promise to toughen up sentencing laws and introduce mandatory sentencing for people who assault police was underpinned in the Budget by a significant investment in prison capacity.

 

A total of $655 million will be invested in 2012/13 to create an extra 1657 prison beds across the state.

A record $5.1 billion spend on health services in the next year – rising 5.9 per cent, or $282 million from last year – will include the fast tracking of forward works for a new children’s hospital, the construction stage of the Fiona Stanley Hospital, and new hospitals in two regional centres.

Mr Buswell said the Government would push ahead with public sector reforms in a bid to achieve improved performance and efficiency.

The first stage of the economic audit committee promised by the Government during the last election was complete and a range of hard decisions had delivered $7.6 billion over the forward estimates, Mr Buswell said.

“I am looking forward to the second stage of the economic audit to identify strategies for broader reform over the longer term, so we can ensure the budget stays in surplus,” he said.

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Sarah MacPherson, Melville

Sarah has a 19-year-old daughter living at home, and is in the process of starting up a technology-based business.                 single mother
 
What Sarah wanted:
Measures to help vulnerable in society, such as pensioners, carers and single parents;
. Increased taxes on cigarettes and alcopops;
. Stimulus packages for small startup companies;
. Maintenance of the First Homeowners Grant boost;
. Investment in education;
. Dumping of the GST charged on sanitary products.
 What she got:
. Increased pensions – by $32.49 for singles and $10.14 per couple.
. The pension age lifted to 67 between years 2017 and 2023.
. First Homeowners Grant boost to remain until September 2009, but to be halved after that.
. Opening up university places for additional 50,000 students over four years from next financial year.
. $437 million over four years to boost number of disadvantaged students at university.
. A 50 per cent small business tax break for eligible capital expenditure.
Her verdict:
“I suppose the first word that came to mind was ‘predictable’,” Sarah said.
 
“The rise in pension age means many of the battlers will have to battle a little longer.
 
“But if you look at the current global economy, they probably haven’t done too badly – they can’t please everybody”

www.watoday.com.au

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SOCCEROOS coach Pim Verbeek looks to have secured the services of promising Perth-born Middlesborough defender Rhys Williams.

The youngster turned down Wales to pledge his international future to Australia. pim-verbeek
The 20-year-old, who has a Welsh grandfather, has played 10 times for the Wales under-21 side but is yet to kick a ball for the senior line-up despite being called into the squad several times.

Williams had recently threatened to commit to Wales after being overlooked for the Socceroos but Verbeek, who is in Europe keeping tabs on Australia’s overseas-based players, has convinced the versatile defender to pursue his dream of playing for Australia.

Williams’ fate now lies with FIFA’s transfer committee but if he gets the rubber stamp he could be eligible to be selected for Australia’s World Cup qualifier in Qatar on June 6.

“Rhys has informed us that he wants now to play for Australia,” Wales spokesman Ceri Stennett said of Williams, who can play in central defence or at right back.

“The wheels are now in motion, and a decision will be made by FIFA’s transfer committee.

“But it looks like a fait accompli now.”

Williams, who left Australia at 16 to become a trainee at Middlesborough, made a name for himself this season on loan at promotion-chasing Championship club Burnley.

He impressed in 17 appearances with the club before being forced to return to Middlesborough before the promotion playoffs after failing to have his loan deal extended.

Burnley will face Reading on Wednesday morning (AEST) for a place in the promotion playoff final against Sheffield United.

Williams was not in Middlesbrough’s squad for Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to Newcastle, which consigned them to almost certain relegation, but he could feature in their final two games of the season.

His displays for the Middlesbrough reserves prior to joining Burnley earned him a contract extension with the club until June 2011 and also attracted the attention of Welsh under 21s coach Brian Flynn.

Williams first forced himself into the senior Wales set-up for last September’s qualifier against Azerbaijan but was yet to make his senior debut which, under FIFA regulations, would have meant he could not play for Australia.

His manager Gary Williams said in March the player saw his future with Wales because he had not had contact from anyone else, but hinted he was still interested in playing for Australia.

Wales said they would not be hurried into giving him a cap just to ensure he he was tied to them and, with his 21st birthday looming, Verbeek has now convinced Williams he has a future with the Socceroos.

www.news.com.au


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