Bud­get doesn’t add up

Townsville Bulletin - - OPINION - PETER SMITH, Rosslea.

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!

Pic­ture: STEVE POHLNER

CRE­ATIVE AC­COUNT­ING: Trea­surer Curtis Pitt’s Bud­get is a cyn­i­cal at­tempt to de­ceive vot­ers, writes a reader.

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