Hospitals big casualty of cuts: Treasury
Tight budget: WA hospitals will lose funding. Picture: Supplied

WA will gain $160 million of schools funding from the Commonwealth over the next four years, but lose $327 million for hospitals, according to WA Treasury analysis of Treasurer Joe Hockey's Federal Budget.

Commonwealth schools funding is unchanged in each of the next three financial years until 2017-18, when WA gets its extra $160 million in one year.

WA will actually get an extra $18.3 million in 2013-14 for hospitals before the reductions begin in 2014-15, when WA is projected to lose $7 million. The losses then accelerate to $45 million in 2015-16, $84 million in 2016-17 and $174 million in 2017-18.

Health and education payments are the biggest so-called specific purpose payments between Canberra and WA.

Treasury is still trying to get a handle on the implications to changes to a suite of smaller SPPs.

For example, WA is expected to lose about $100 million over four years for cuts to payments to support concessions for seniors, which could force the State Government to axe concessions for local council rates, water bills, the emergency services levy and public transport. Treasurer Mike Nahan says the concessions are safe for 2014-15.

Losses could be offset by higher GST payments, which, while they are still projected to fall in absolute terms, could be $418 million more than projected over the forward estimates.

The West Australian can reveal the projections after the impact of Mr Hockey's Budget took centre stage at a WA Budget estimates hearing yesterday.

Premier Colin Barnett claimed the overall effect on WA over the forward estimates would be a net loss of just $100 million.

"While there has been a lot of attention on changes to longer-term Commonwealth funding for education and health (beyond 2018), they are not as severe (over the forward estimates)," he said.

Opposition Leader Mark McGowan was sceptical.

"I don't quite understand how that can be the case in light of what we have learnt about health cuts and cuts to pensioner and retiree benefits," he said.

The West Australian

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