The WA business community today congratulates the McGowan Government on a stable budget update, while renewing our call to continue to rein in unsustainable spending.
Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCI) Chief Economist Rick Newnham said CCI welcomes today’s confirmation that the Government remains on track to achieve a surplus by the end of the forward estimates, and is forecast to reduce net debt by $854 million in the final year.
“Today’s update shows that the Government is demonstrating spending discipline, but more must be done to bring us back into line with the rest of the country, with WA currently spending more per person than any other state at $11,484, compared to Victoria ($9,978 per person) and New South Wales ($9,758 per person),” Mr Newnham said.
“The Government must keep its focus on reducing spending to tackle net debt which will cost WA taxpayers more than $4.5 billion in interest payments alone over the forward estimates – money that could be spent on infrastructure, hospitals and schools.”
CCI has long called for the sale of Government assets to pay down debt, generate efficiencies for consumers, boost investment and regain WA’s AAA credit rating.
“CCI welcomes today’s announcement that the Government will review the feasibility of selling Landgate, and urges the Government to establish further reviews of other state assets for sale,” Mr Newnham said.
“This is an opportunity for the Government to assess the ownership of all state-owned assets, which has the potential to wipe billions of dollars off state debt while increasing productivity by accelerating infrastructure construction.
“CCI’s Annual Member Survey confirmed that the WA business community strongly supports asset sales in WA, with nearly 50 per cent of survey respondents stating they would support the full or partial sale of the TAB and Gloucester Park.”
CCI also congratulates the McGowan Government for standing strong on its wages policy during WA Police’s Industrial Agreement negotiations, and for getting on top of a major problem for the WA budget – health spending.
“Public sector wages are the single biggest area of government expenditure (45%), so it is vital that the Government is able to get wage growth under control to repair the state’s finances,” Mr Newnham said.
“The health budget accounts for more than half of all Government spending increases in the last three years, so today’s update of a $142 million reduction in spending growth is a positive step to bring WA’s health costs in line with the rest of the country, which have outstripped the rest of the country by more than 17 per cent in recent years.
“CCI looks forward to continuing to work with the Government to support business investment and job creation by repairing the state’s finances.”