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State Budget 2016: Treasurer's Fake Surplus

2 June 2016

Thursday 2 June 2016

Ms O'CONNOR question to TREASURER, Mr GUTWEIN

[10.08 a.m.]

For the past week you have let Tasmanians believe the state Budget is in surplus due to a net operating balance of $77.3 million.  According to your own budget paper 1, page 9:

The receipt of Australian Government funding, particularly one-off major projects, has the effect of improving the net operating balance outcome.

In other words it distorts the true picture.  Treasury says:

The underlying net operating balance has been used for a number of years that removes the distorting impact of one-off Australian Government funding for capital projects.

The state's Auditor-General also uses this measure, and by his measure the state is in deficit.  By both the Auditor-General's and Treasury's best measure the state will be in deficit by $94.2 million - not back in the black but in the red.  Isn't it a fact that you have painted a dishonest picture of the state's finances?

Members interjecting.

Ms O'Connor - Get up there and blame us.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  The interjections will cease.  The Treasurer has not even started answering the question.

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for that question and for her encouragement to stand up and blame them. 

Every year the state Budget receives a range of Commonwealth payments.  They happened when you were in government, when you were a minister.  In any given year we will receive a range of Commonwealth payments.  If the member wanted us to take out the GST then that would materially change our bottom line. 

That table in the Budget is not a standard accounting table; it is simply a way of providing a degree of transparency across government in regard to ensuring that people understand there is a flow of federal funds into the Budget.

When you were in government, and as the risks report indicated, there was $1.1 billion worth of operating deficits across the forward Estimates.  They were operating deficits.

Ms Woodruff interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  I warn the member for Franklin, Ms Woodruff.  I am not going to have a repeat of yesterday.

Mr GUTWEIN - The underlying balance would have been significantly worse across that period under your government.  Each year we receive an inflow of Commonwealth payments.  They come into the Budget.  The net operating balance is the measure used to indicate the health of the Budget.

Ms O'Connor interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  I warn the member for Denison, Ms O'Connor.  The Treasurer does not need assistance in answering the question.  It is not a time for debate.  He will be allowed to answer the question.

Mr GUTWEIN - Our Budget returns to surplus next year with a very healthy surplus of -

Ms O'Connor interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  I have just warned the member.

Mr GUTWEIN - $77 million, which is a complete difference from anything that side put down.  I can see the Opposition Leader laughing on the other side.  He should be hanging his head in shame.  Net operating balances across the forward Estimates were a cumulative deficit of $1.1 billion.  That is what you left.  Net debt was forecast to rise to more than $400 million.  That is what you left.  You sit there with a smile on your face, knowing full well the mess we had to clean up was the mess you created. 

The budget returns to surplus next year, a cumulative operating surplus across the forward Estimates, which is a far cry from the mess you left.

Ms O'Connor interjecting.

                                ________________________________

Member suspended

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  I heard that.  The member is ejected from the House.  I am sick of this back-chat to the Speaker.  The member clearly got the jump.  We are going through the allocation.  The member is ejected from the House, pursuant to standing order 193, for disorderly conduct until 12 noon today.

Ms O'Connor withdrew.