Monthly Archives: July 2015
Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt is delivering his first State budget right now, 2.30 pm on Bastille Day, 14 July, 2015. It is a critical first budget for his political future, and the future of the new Labor Palaszczuk Government.
For tactical reasons, the Government embarked on a program, in the week before Budget delivery, of releasing important Budget announcements to the media. This meant that the Government dominated the good news component of media reports for most of the week and a half before Budget Day.
These announcements included significant information about major Budget strategy decisions such as
- basing budget strategy on expectations of economic growth and economic recovery, with no increase in debt and a return to surplus in four years;
- seeking private sector involvement in infrastructure development – a revised PPP approach;
- using Government-Owned Corporation payments to shareholders to pay down general Government debt
- the budget is to deliver a net operating surplus;
- separating Government-Owned Corporation balance sheets from other parts of the Whole of Government balance sheets, and transferring GOC debt to GOC balance sheets (~ $4bn); and
- focus on operating debt and surplus, vs. the LNP Government’s use of total debt and fiscal surplus.
They also included significant announcements about policy and program initiatives, and funding commitments such as
- education, health and tourism will be key spending priorities;
- releasing the Treasury analysis of the State finances;
- Advance Queensland, a multifaceted program of sunrise industry facilitation (~ $50m);
- vocational education and training package ($750m);
- re-commitment to merging five energy Government Owned Corporations into two;
- infrastructure assessment streamlining;
- development of a Queensland Gas Action Plan to be commenced in 2016;
- car registration increased of 3.5 per cent on July 1 confirmed;
- pensioner concessions for electricity, water, gas and transport will be fully funded ($347 million) by the State Government, after the Federal Government withdrew funds;
- Great Start Grant ($15,000) for first home builders to stay;
- new Positive Parenting Program to be made available (estimated at 140,000 families, $6.6m);
- a fund to help fight Banana disease Panama Tropical Race 4 ($9.8m);
- a new netball centre at Nathan with eight indoor courts, player facilities and administration ($30m);
- payroll tax holiday for new businesses;
- no forced redundancies in energy Government-Owned Corporation mergings;
- package of actions designed to reduce domestic violence (~ $31m);
- setting minimum proportions of nurses to patients (~ $212m);
- Social Benefit Bonds to fund social programs – pilot scheme (~ $3m).
Significant claims made by the Government, in support of major budget decisions included
- Repudiation of austerity as an appropriate response to current economic circumstances;
- Meeting election commitments;
- $3bn collapse in royalty and other resource-sector related revenue;
- A stabilising State economy;
- Refusal of the Federal Government to fund State infrastructure development without asset sales;
- Separation of Government-Owned Corporation balance sheets from Whole of Government balance sheets is warranted by virtue of their
- commercialised nature;
- (allegedly artificially) low gearing ratios;
- borrowings being devoted to income-generating activity.
Budget papers, including the Treasurer’s speech, which will include many more details, will be available here later today – then we’ll get to see what else is in there, and how it all fits together.