The West

WA Budget at Hockey  mercy
Big test: Joe Hockey. Picture: AP

Mike Nahan's first Budget could be out of date within five days of its release, with key economic parameters and decisions hostage to Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey.

In a risky move, the WA Treasurer has accepted bureaucrats' advice to release the State's most important economic document before the Abbott Government's landmark first Budget.

Dr Nahan will hand down his first State Budget on May 8. Five days later, Mr Hockey will present the Abbott Government's first economic blueprint.

It leaves State Treasury second-guessing key Federal forecasts in areas such as national economic growth, inflation and the strength of the dollar.

All are vital to predictions made in the State Budget, including how much revenue will flow to the WA Government. There are also growing concerns that a tight Federal Budget will cause the national economy to contract with the Abbott Government focused on cutting expenditure.

Federal decisions in non- economic areas could also put Dr Nahan in a difficult position.

The likely introduction of a Medicare co-payment has already been flagged as a potential problem for the States, who run emergency departments.

Those put off going to a GP by the payment could end up presenting at State-run hospitals.

A range of national partnership agreements that include Canberra cash are also due to expire within months.

The WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the State should consider pushing back the date of the Budget.

"The State Budget is typically held in May close to the Federal Budget," a spokesman said.

"Most other States release their budgets towards the end of May or in early June, following the Federal Budget.

"The State Government could consider this if it feels important information from the Federal Budget isn't available that will impact on its own forecasts and spending priorities."

But a spokesman for Dr Nahan said the cut-off for the State Budget was always before the Federal Budget.

Waiting to see Mr Hockey's Budget would cause unnecessary delays to projects planned in the WA Budget, including those requiring legislative changes.

The West Australian

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