Western ‘s budget deficit for the new financial year will be slightly lower than expected and the state remains on track for a surplus by 2020/21, Treasurer Ben Wyatt says.
The 2018/19 deficit is now expected to have narrowed to about $900 million, down from the $915 million forecast in the mid-year budget review.
“There will be, unsurprisingly, a better budget position because we are spending a lot less this financial year and we have been the beneficiaries of some revenue uptick around royalties, and importantly, own tax revenue,” Mr Wyatt told reporters on Monday.
“Payroll, stamp duties et cetera are holding as opposed to declining so overall, some positive outcomes there.”
WA is also benefiting from a 47 cents GST distribution, up from a budgeted 45 cents.
Mr Wyatt reiterated there was no easy fix to WA’s net debt burden, which was forecast in December to hit $40.7 billion in 2018/19 and peak the following financial year at $42.8 billion.
He said the focus was to return the budget to surplus but debt would be paid off over a long time.
“This is generational debt – it took 10 years to rack up and as every Western n knows, it’s easy to take on debt, it’s much harder to pay it off.
“That’s going to be the job of not just me but future treasurers.
“We’ve never hidden from that.”
Mr Wyatt will hand down his second budget on Thursday.
The state government has already revealed Perth homes that use more than 500,000 litres of water a year will see an average 16 per cent hike in their water bills from July 1, while regional guzzlers will pay 10 per cent more.
Water Minister Dave Kelly said only a small amount of customers fell into that category.
“What we’re trying to do is be fair across the community,” he told reporters.
“We want to minimise the impact on low income earners and by limiting the increase in the service charge to three per cent, we really are giving some preferential treatment to people at the lower end.”
Mr Kelly says the hikes aim to make guzzlers – typically from Perth’s affluent western suburbs – cut down their water use, which will defer the need to build a new $1 billion desalination plant.
But opposition water spokesman David Honey labelled the increases “class warfare and envy politics at its worst”, saying they would hit larger families hardest no matter what suburb they lived in.