Shadow Treasurer, Curtis Pitt, says the Costello audit has delivered predictable findings enabling the Newman Government to break more of its election promises, cut more government jobs and frontline services, and lift taxes, fees and charges.
“This audit report is Premier Newman’s and Treasurer Nicholls’s blueprint — not Labor’s,” Mr Pitt said.
“So from today onwards Mr Newman and Mr Nicholls will be directly responsible for any decisions based on its findings that result in job shedding, service cuts and higher taxes, fees and charges. In other words, the blame games ends today,” he said.
Mr Pitt said nobody would be surprised that an audit commissioned by the LNP government and headed by the LNP’s mate Peter Costello tried to lay blame on the Labor Party.
“Of course a former Liberal Party politician would say it’s all Labor’s fault,” he said.
Mr Pitt said Queensland Treasury’s Mid-Year Review in December 2011 had the budget tracking to surplus in 2014-15.
“Despite their best efforts and worst-case scenarios the May 2012 Treasury update in the audit says the same thing,” he said.
“The Premier and Mr Nicholls have dishonestly tried through this audit to extend their blame game for a further six years by wrongly claiming Labor would not have taken any further action on the state’s finances.
“Their claims about a debt position six years into the future are based solely on a set of assumptions created by Mr Costello.
“I have not had time to consider the audit findings in depth because the Opposition had not been provided advance copies of the 200-page report.
“But I note the audit’s findings are based on the central assumption (Graph 1.2) that economic circumstances in the next five years would be a repeat of the past five years.
“In other words, Mr Costello has based his projections on a repeat of the global financial crisis and a repeat of Queensland summer of disastrous floods and cyclones,” he said.
Mr Pitt said the Premier and Mr Nicholls would continue to use the audit to continue spreading negativity about the Queensland economy.
“The Premier in particular keeps talking about the state economy being on ‘a power dive into the abyss’,” he said.
“While they are continuing to talk down our state’s economy I have tremendous confidence in Queensland’s future, but only if we have a government that will not sacrifice sensible economic and financial management for short-term political point-scoring.”
Mr Pitt said Mr Nicholls needed to say if the debt figure he was quoting included $5.7 billion worth of saving the LNP claimed to have found to fund its election commitments.
“The savings announced yesterday by the Treasurer were supposed to be in addition to this $5.7 billion worth of commitments, but we have not seen where these $5.7 billion in savings are coming from,” he said.
What Mr Nicholls and the Costello Audit will NOT tell you:
- Almost half of the $62 billion in gross debt referred to ($30.2 billion) is held by government-owned corporations much of which is self-sustaining through commercial revenues. eg: port authorities would receive revenue from resources companies (not taxpayers) to help pay down debt.
- The LNP inherited an economy from Labor that’s growing at 7.8% over the year to the March quarter, with the second highest investment pipeline in the nation, unemployment at 5.5% and a return to surplus in 2014-15.
- The 7.8% figure for economic growth for Queensland in the recent Australian National Accounts for March Quarter was far ahead of the nation at 5% and NSW at 2.1% which has already undergone slash-and-burn public sector cuts.
- Labor left Queensland with a debt-to-GSP ratio (used by the IMF to compare debt) for general government of 12% (Canada 85%, USA 107%, Italy 124%, Greece 153%).
- Labor left expenditure settings at (3.85%) lower than inflation plus population growth (4.88%) over the next three years.
- Does the debt figure include the $5.7 billion worth of LNP election commitments?
- Does the Costello Audit include the $737 million in savings Labor put in place in the mid-year budget review?
- Queensland’s budget position is certified by the Auditor-General and the update was provided during the tenure of the former Under-Treasurer now appointed by the LNP to the Queensland Treasury Corporation, and praised for his ‘exemplary service’.
- What will the Treasurer say next month on his trade mission to China, Japan and the USA — will he be talking down the Queensland economy to foreign investors?
- How does Mr Nicholls explain that the Queensland Treasury Corporation website recently reported that investors were flocking to Queensland because of the strong economic fundamentals left by Labor?
- By investing in infrastructure Labor helped the Queensland economy to grow by 45% over the last decade to $258.8 billion and kept unemployment low to 5.5%.
- Labor left Queensland with long-term superannuation liabilities fully funded, the envy of every Government in Australia.
- Campbell Newman increased debt as Lord Mayor of Brisbane from $400 million in 2009 to $1.2 billion in 2011.