10/03/2010 - 17:04

Buswell asks for extra funds

10/03/2010 - 17:04

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Treasurer Troy Buswell today said he was seeking a $680 million increase in the Treasurer's Advance to cover higher spending commitments.

Treasurer Troy Buswell today said he was seeking a $680 million increase in the Treasurer's Advance to cover higher spending commitments.

The increase will take the Treasurer's Advance from $469.2 million to $1.15 billion.

In parliament today Mr Buswell said the advance would go towards providing essential services, including: $173.5 million for the Department of Health; $235 million for first homebuyers; $72.3 million for prisons, $77 million for the education department; $13.7 million for police; and $20.8 million for the Department of Environment and Conservation.

The advance also includes a $159 million contingency fund, which has not yet been allocated to specific agencies.

Mr Buswell said the increase did not necessarily mean the state budget would fall into deficit, saying the outcome was "touch and go."

"There have been spending pressures, there have been some revenue gained for us, in areas like stamp duty, royalties and an increase in the size of the GST pool," Mr Buswell said.

"We will reach that landing point on budget cut-off day, which is still 6 weeks away, but it is still just touch and go in terms of delivery of a budget surplus in Western Australia."

Opposition spokesperson for Treasury Mark McGowan said in a statement released this afternoon Mr Buswell's request was financial recklessness and said the Treasurer's spending was "out of control".

"It is wrong to be seeking such a large Treasurer's Advance when spending is already out of control, the budget is sliding into deficit and the funds are not for improved services but for pet projects," Mr McGowan said.

But Mr Buswell said he challenged critics of the increased advance, which he said was a response to a spike in demand for essential government services.

"The Treasurer's Advance is about helping first homebuyers and it's about dealing with increased demand in the delivery of essential government services, the sorts of things that Western Australian households expect their government to effectively fund," he said.

"My challenge to anyone who says we're spending too much money, when we're constantly criticised for not spending enough money, is tell us where you would cut," he said.

"Go through this Treasurer's Advance and tell us would you not provide $235 million of funding to support for first homebuyers in Western Australia, would you not provide $77 million to help keep teachers in schools so that we had, for one of the first times ever, every classroom in the state manned at the start of the school year?

"Would you not provide 72 million to provide extra prison officers to keep the people who are breaking the law in prison?

"This is spending on supporting first homebuyers, and spending on providing essential services which the public of Western Australia expect from their government."

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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