Premier, Treasurer lay bare the state of WA’s finances: “worst since Great Depression”

Mark McGowan. Photo: AAP
Mark McGowan. Photo: AAP

PREMIER Mark McGowan has said WA’s finances are in the worst shape they’ve been in since the Great Depression and admitted he’s losing sleep over the issue.

WA’s debt is now tipped to reach $42.3 billion by 2020, on the back of a reduced share of GST proceeds, while the budget deficit has been revised up to reach $1.1 billion at the same time.

The Premier has warned the state faced becoming a “financial basket case” unless action was taken.

“The government will need to make tough and uncompromising decisions to arrest this slide,” Mr McGowan said.

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Meanwhile, Treasurer Ben Wyatt and Under Treasurer Michael Barnes opened the books today to reinforce the need for budget repair.

Mr Wyatt said the key challenges for the state were higher net debt levels, a record high underemployment rate and unprecedented low wage and population growth.

“This overview is about being transparent with our financial position to allow all Western Australians to understand the challenges we face,” he said.

“Western Australia’s finances are not in good shape due to years of budget mismanagement from the previous government.

“The diabolical state of the books, coupled with further deterioration in revenue, have further exacerbated the significant fiscal challenges we now face.

“Returning the budget to surplus is going to be difficult, however we are taking immediate action to limit unnecessary expenditure.

“The scale of the challenge confronting the Government means the 2017‑18 State Budget will be later than usual this year, with Cabinet approving a September 7 Budget.”