McGowan Government budget management continues to kick goals

  • Audited results for first full financial year under McGowan Labor Government released
  • Lowest expense growth in over two decades
  • $3.2 billion improvement in net debt since 2017-18 Budget forecast
  • Operating deficit for 2017-18 financial year slashed from $2.3 billion to just $618 million

Treasurer Ben Wyatt today released the 2017-18 Annual Report on State Finances, which showed that the McGowan Government’s commitment to Budget repair is delivering financial benefits to the State.

The Annual Report on State Finances details the audited financial outcomes for the 2017-18 financial year, and confirms general government expense growth of 1.9 per cent for 2017-18 is the lowest expense growth recorded since 1994-95.

After removing the one-off impacts of the Machinery of Government changes and the Voluntary Targeted Separation Scheme, underlying expense growth was just 0.2 per cent.

The 2017-18 financial year was also marked by continuing positive signs for the WA economy. 2017-18 recorded the first positive growth in business investment and State final demand since 2012-13. Other indicators are consistent with this outcome with levels of business confidence recently at a seven-year-high, having increased by about 50 per cent since 2015.

Key budget aggregates have progressively improved since the 2017-18 Budget forecasts.

The 2017-18 Budget forecast an operating deficit of $2.3 billion in 2017-18. This forecast was revised down to $1.3 billion in the 2018-19 Budget. The final result was an operating deficit of just $618 million.

Importantly, the McGowan Labor Government’s strong commitment to financial repair has resulted in the State’s net debt position improving by $3.2 billion since the 2017-18 Budget forecast.

The 2017-18 audited results confirm that the McGowan Labor Government remains on track to deliver a surplus from 2020-21.

General government revenue grew by nine per cent relative to 2016-17, however, this has been largely driven by one-off impacts. Underlying revenue growth for 2017-18 was just 3.2 per cent – still lower than the 3.7 per cent average growth under the previous government.

The Annual Report on State Finances can be downloaded from the Department of Treasury’s website at

As noted by Treasurer Ben Wyatt:

“For those interested in such things, these figures are the equivalent of a top four finish for the finances of WA. We remain focused on a premiership win which is returning the State to surplus.

“They are concrete proof that our plan for Budget repair is working, and the efforts made by all Western Australians who have contributed are paying off.

“I would also like to acknowledge the co-operation and hard work of all Ministers and directors general in achieving this result. All areas of government have contributed to our Budget repair efforts.

“I would particularly like to acknowledge the efforts of WA Health, which succeeded in containing expense growth in our State’s health system to just two per cent in 2017-18, down from average growth of 8.9 per cent over the decade to 2016-17.

“We have also long argued that our plan for the State’s debt is responsible financial management and that means paying off debt responsibly, just like a mortgage. These results show that plan is working.

“I have always maintained that we can only start to talk about paying off debt once the fundamentals were right, which means a return to surplus, and it is pleasing that we remain on that path.”

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