Budget doesn’t add up
IN DELIVERING his 2015- 16 Budget, freshman Treasurer Curtis Pitt proves up the dictum, if you can’t beat ’ em, cheat ’ em.
Unleashing an adept brand of alchemic accounting, Pitt trots out a Budget miracle on a scale not witnessed since The Gallilean turned water into wine.
Honouring his ALP’s election commitments, Pitt’s Budget details an increase in expenditure with no increases to taxes and charges or reduction to services.
This will be achieved despite writedowns in royalties of $ 3 billion over the next four years, plus an increase of 10,000 public servants for Queensland over the same period, and a Treasury directive to all departments to glean savings of $ 1 billion.
Overlooking his upbeat posturing, Pitt’s breathtaking deception in assuming away debt liability of the government- owned corporations flies in the face of credible fiscal standard metrics.
I confess to being no beancounter, however the Treasurer has simply jettisoned $ 4 billion onto the balance sheets of the energy GOCs, and then informed voter- land government debt is somehow being reduced.
Balderdash – Pitt knows only too well that the total public sector debt includes the outstanding liabilities of respective GOCs for which all Queenslanders are ultimately responsible, and alas for his P- plate Government, ratings agencies factor it in against State revenues.
Mr Pitt, in an attempt to craft a warm connection with Joe and Mary Voter, inanely labels this a typical Labor Budget encapsulating the reformist zeal of the successful Hawke- Keating- Peter Walsh Labor federal government.
His claim simply is hubris on steroids. A favourite of mine, the late doyen of finance ministers, Peter Walsh, a stickler for fiscal rectitude, wouldn’t have brooked this Budget for a nanosecond.
By suspending payments to the Public Service Defined Benefits Scheme while raiding the public servants’ long service leave entitlements and squeezing the odd hollow log or three, our State Treasurer will free up $ 10 billion to retire debt in the government operating arm.
With global monetary policy skating dangerously close to the dreaded “zero”, and conventional grid electricity generation under attack from renewable and new battery storage technologies, the missed opportunity not to recycle our energy assets will most assuredly return to bite Queensland taxpayers on the proverbial.
Kicking the fiscal can down the road onto the ATM cards of future generations hardly registers a yawn with this Palaszczuk- led Government.
Fiscal frugality while not breeding popularity, definitely delivers solvency. If you don’t believe me, just ask the sickest economic man in Europe right now – Greece!
CREATIVE ACCOUNTING: Treasurer Curtis Pitt’s Budget is a cynical attempt to deceive voters, writes a reader.