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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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single motherSarah MacPherson has a 19-year-old daughter living at home.

“I think people should be realistic that we’re in unusual economic times and that the government might need to hand down an unusual budget to respond,” she said.

“I really hope the Government looks after the most vulnerable in society, the pensioners, the carers, single parents.

“I’m happy for them to increase taxes on cigarettes and alcopops, because the youngsters with the alcopops and cigarettes are just a horror, aren’t they?”

After a long period as a PAYE worker Sarah’s career is in transition as she looks to start up a technology-based business

She says that in the current economic climate, where people may be losing their jobs, the Government needs to provide
stimulus packages for small startup companies.

On the broader economy, Sarah says first homeowners are the only segment of the housing market keeping the “crucial” building industry afloat right now.

“I would look at them to continue the first home owners grant to stimulate the economy via house sales,” she says.

“I do have quite a few friends with kids older than (my daughter) and they’re all trying to get in before the end of June, because the Government has only promised the boosted grant until then.”

Sarah believes Treasurer Wayne Swan’s mooted investment in primary school infrastructure will provide economic stimulus in the short term, and benefit society in the long term.

She also says the GST charged on sanitary products should be dropped immediately.

“That’s an absolute necessity for women.”

http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/budget

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