Before the budget came down, Campbell Newman described it as a “once in a generation budget”. That is certainly what Queensland needed. Our long-term budget position is actually worse than the audit report or old budget papers claim, since they don’t factor in the growing fiscal pressures over the coming decades caused by an aging population. Put simply, current policies are unsustainable, and some tough decisions are needed.
The first thing to note is that the government decided to give up on fixing the 2012/13 budget.
They have allowed the operating deficit to increase from an estimated $4.9 billion (Audit) to $6.3 billion, and the fiscal deficit to increase from an estimated $9.5 billion (Audit) to $10.8 billion. This is perhaps understandable since the federal government has been playing games with their grants (shifting money around to try and manufacture a federal government surplus) and the lag time involved in reforms. So the real place to watch is the estimate for the 2013/14 budget balance.
The recent Queensland budget audit showed an expected 2012-13 operating deficit of $4.9 billion (up from $4.2 billion), and proposed a range of tax increases and soft spending restraint over several years, with serious structural reform only briefly hinted at in a few sentences on page 203. We can do better.
This document shows how we can immediately return to surplus, fundamentally reform hospitals & schools, cut taxes in half, and slash regulation to get the economy booming.
The below reforms are a clear break from “business as usual” and would require brave political leadership. The spending cuts will be unpopular, especially from those people who previously received the “free” money.
However, while these reforms introduce some short-term pain, the long-term benefits are clear and significant. A more competitive hospital and school system will lead to better quality health and education. Dramatically lower taxes and fewer regulations will spur new investments and productivity growth – leading to more jobs and higher wages. And importantly, these reforms ensure the budget position is sustainable so that we do not leave a legacy of debt and deficits for future generations.
Last Monday night was the first meeting of the “liberal club (Qld)“, which has attracted a bit of media attention. The club was started by a handful of people who used to be centrally involved with the former Qld Liberal Party — namely Gary Hardgrave (former federal Liberal MP for Moreton), Bob Carroll (former President of Qld Libs), Geoffrey Greene (former State Director of Qld Libs) and Santo Santoro (former state MP & Senator for Qld Libs). I don’t really know any of these people.
The formation of the new group led to a bit of excitement, and VEX news reported them as “splitters” and “rebels” who are against the merged Liberal National Party (LNP). Others claim it is just a group for like-minded people to eat & chat.
The best parts of this State Council happened in the closed session… so if you want to know the good stuff in the future you should join the party and come along to our meetings. :p
But given that the open sessions are called “open” I assume I’m allowed to talk about them. First, it was a good weekend, helped significantly by being in fun-filled Cairns. That meant it cost a bit more money, but it also meant I got to run into a few people who I otherwise wouldn’t have met (hi Jake & thanks for the scotch) and got to visit a few new streets & pubs.
I’m not sure whether a hung parliament is good or bad for the country, but it’s great for political tragics who get to pontificate about the various twists and turns.
The situation as it stands is 73 for Lib/Nat, 72 for Labor, 1 Green, 1 left-leaning independent (Wilkie), and 3 rural independents (Katter, Oakshott, Windsor). It is reasonable to assume that the Green and Wilkie will side with Labor, which means that the 3 rural independents will decide the outcome. While all come from the conservative side of politics, they do not have a good relationship with the National Party and in many instances their interests seem to align more closely with Labor (they all want more NBN funding and two want a carbon price). In all the confusion about the eventual winner, there has been less consideration about whether winning is a good thing. It may be that the forming government for the next year is a poisoned chalice. Time will tell.
How will Queenslanders vote in the 2010 federal election? I don’t know. Election watchers love to over-analyse events and make detailed predictions based on their reading of the tea-leaves, but in my opinion the best indicator of what will happen comes from the betting markets. So I will spare you my own guesses, and instead outline what the markets are saying about how Queensland will vote.
Barnaby Joyce nominated a five seat gain for the LNP in Queensland — mentioning Longman (s/e Qld), Flynn (rural), Leichardt (rural), Dawson (coastal) and the new seat of Wright (s/e Qld). Centrebet agrees with four of these, with the exception being Longman (which is being contested by 20-year-old Wyatt Roy for the LNP).