Up to 1,000 jobs are on the chopping block as the state government seeks to reduce costs and improve the efficiency of the public sector.
Premier Colin Barnett and Treasurer Troy Buswell announced the reforms today, saying the voluntary redundancies would potentially save the government around $75 million a year.
The government will also introduce new legislation to allow involuntary redundancies in WA, in line with other states.
The changes also include a cap on government departments’ salaries budgets, to keep them at 2012-13 levels.
The salaries budgets had grown by an average of 8.6 per cent each year since 2008-09, Mr Buswell said.
The treasurer said the new wages policy could save more than $2 billion over the next four years.
“The WA public sector’s salaries budget represents about 45 per cent of WA government spending, so in a changing economic environment, as we look to responsible budget measures, this is an obvious area to look at,” Mr Buswell said.
“However, it is very important to note that under a new wages policy, no-one is worse off and the real wages of public sector workers will be protected."
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the job cuts were a sign of things to come under a Tony Abbott-led coalition government in Canberra.
“I’m very concerned about what that means for those working people and their families,” she told reporters in Perth.
“It follows a pattern right around the country where state Liberal governments have cut jobs.”
Defence Minister and Member for Perth, Stephen Smith, said voters heard nothing of the government's plans to cut jobs in the lead-up to the recent state election.
"There were plenty of promises about public transport which haven't been met but nothing about job losses," he said.
State Labor treasury spokesman Ben Wyatt said the news was a hammer blow to families across Perth.
"Families all over Perth are fretting right now," Mr Wyatt told Fairfax Radio.
"And the government has created this problem, which will cost hundreds if not thousands of jobs to pay for their spending excess."
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomed the cuts, however, describing them as "important first steps to reforming public sector expenditure".
"As circumstances change, governments should have the ability to manage their staffing levels," CCI spokesperson Tim Bray said.
"It is inefficient and unsustainable to guarantee employment no matter what the circumstances."
The Barnett government has come under heavy fire from the opposition for breaking election promises.
As several Barnett senior staffers received substantial pay rises, the government banned advertising and stationery orders to save $100 million.
Mr Barnett has previously flagged job cuts in response to state debt reaching $18 billion, lower GST revenues, and falling royalties from a volatile resources sector.
There could be a $2 billion revenue write-down on estimates given before the election.
The state budget is set to be handed down on August 8.
--with content from Australian Associated Press.