WA treasurer stares down big business

Western Australia Treasurer Ben Wyatt has defended tough budget measures targeting big business. (AAP)

WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt has stepped into the lion's den, defending tough budget repair measures targeting big business at a packed corporate event.

WA Treasurer Ben Wyatt says tough measures targeting big business won't cost jobs, and insists his first state budget spreads the fiscal pain evenly across the community.

Mr Wyatt stepped into the lion's den on Friday, drawing a big crowd at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia forum.

Attendees at the corporate event complained a temporary payroll tax levy on large firms and gold royalty increases would damage growth.

While Mr Wyatt concedes the payroll tax levy is "despised", he insists it it is "a reasonable decision" given WA's dire finances, and will only last five years.

"I'm confident it will have a negligible impact on employment," he said.

"Without using these other levers, then I'm left with cutting deeper into the public sector and I probably can't do too much more of that at the moment."

Mr Wyatt also signalled he wouldn't be pushed around by the vocal mining industry, rejecting their claims a royalty rate increase would lead to less exploration.

"Ultimately miners are looking for their next revenue source," he said.

The treasurer was equally blunt when commenting on the Nationals' prized Royalties for Regions program, which will no longer be solely about building new facilities in country areas.

It will also fund essential services and programs that were previously funded from the government's consolidated account, so it can "stick around instead of being abolished", Mr Wyatt says.

Mr McGowan told the corporate event Labor had "inherited a sandwich of some magnitude", referring to 2016/17 debt of $33 billion, but opposition leader Mike Nahan said they had made too many expensive election promises.

"They're just trying to weasel out of it, trying to blame everybody else," Dr Nahan said.

But Dr Nahan said the Liberals would not be as "disgusting" as Labor had been in opposing budget bills put forward by the former Barnett government.

But he has also not ruled out forming an upper house bloc with the Nationals and One Nation to scupper the gold royalty hike.

The treasurer said Dr Nahan shouldn't let the cross bench determine what passes.

"I just say to the upper house, but to the Liberal party in particular, I'm just hoping they come back from the dark fringe upon which they are now operating, back into the sensible centre of politics and work with the government," Mr Wyatt told reporters.

Source AAP

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