The spending reforms we have to have

In The Australian today:
“Exactly a year ago, Wayne Swan conceded that the Labor government would not achieve its much touted budget surplus. Since then, the $5.4 billion surplus Swan promised in 2010-11 for 2012-13 has melted into a $47bn deficit. As for the benign outlook Swan’s 2012-13 budget projected, its cumulative surplus of $16.3bn to 2015-16 has become a $123.8bn sea of red ink.”

About Henry Ergas

Henry Ergas is a columnist for The Australian newspaper and the inaugural Professor of Infrastructure Economics at the SMART Infrastructure Facility at the University of Wollongong. The SMART Infrastructure Facility is a $61.8 million world-class research and training centre concerned with integrated infrastructure solutions for the future. Henry is also Senior Economic Adviser to Deloitte Australia. Prior to these concurrent roles Henry worked as a consultant economist at NECG, CRA International and Concept Economics. Henry's previous career was as an economist at the OECD in Paris, where amongst other roles he headed the Secretary-General’s Task Force on Structural Adjustment and was Counsellor for Structural Policy in the Economics Department.
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19 Responses to The spending reforms we have to have

  1. I think the 2014 Budget is going to be absolutely brutal. It will of necessity be a deficit budget – they’ve inherited too many problems to have any chance of getting it into the black – but the next four or five months will be interesting. I think there will be a lot of unproductive Lefty trough-snufflers suddenly hitting cold metal at the base of their favourite feeding stations, if those stations are even there when the dust has settled.

  2. steve

    Why can’t we put Gillard, Swan, Conroy etc in jail for doing this?

    What is the difference between Enron and what they did to us? ….and they went to jail!

    “At the end of 2001, it was revealed that its reported financial condition was sustained substantially by an institutionalized, systematic, and creatively planned accounting fraud, known since as the Enron scandal. Enron has since become a well-known example of willful corporate fraud and corruption. The scandal also brought into question the accounting practices and activities of many corporations in the United States and was a factor in the creation of the Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002. The scandal also affected the greater business world by causing the dissolution of the Arthur Andersen accounting company.”

  3. Baldrick

    Not to worry. Stephen Koukoulas from the progressive think-tank Per Capita, their ABC’s The Drum and Crikey, says we’re all being ‘unrealistically pessimistic’ about the economy.

    Who cares if we turn a projected $5 billion surplus into a $47 billion debt … after all, it’s other people’s money and he wasn’t a senior economics advisor to Julia Gillard for nothing!

  4. Leo G

    Justice served would be Wayne Swan’s head presented on the Euromoney tea server.

  5. HK_Brother

    Debt and Deficit…Its what the ALP does best. In fact, its their expertise!

  6. Andrew of Randwick

    Why can’t we put Gillard, Swan, Conroy etc in jail for doing this?

    The suggestion is probably a bit harsh. But as their employer, I would think that I must be able to find a sanction that ‘has some teeth’.
    1) Clawback: Give back bonus, or salary paid because I was misled about them doing the job diligently?
    2) Suspension: Suspension from holding public office, or earning an income from the public purse for 10 years?
    3) Reduce total remuneration: Adjustment of superannuation entitlements?
    Some readers may think this is unrealistic, but have a second thought about what they did. They deliberately misled the Australian public and about public finances over a long period of time. They did not just get estimates and projections incorrect. They got them massively wrong. ASIC would pursue them for years if it happened outside Parliament.
    If there is no possible sanction then what is the incentive for any politician to even give a ‘best endeavors’ statement on the consequences of any government policy?
    P.S. I think the defence will be like that seen in private enterprise – namely you can do scenarios, modelling, projections and estimates – but you never say you have re-done the budget or forecasts because that has an accounting/legal meaning. So the crew probably never tipped an estimate over the edge into a revised budget figure.

  7. .

    Seriously why would any business buy a forecast from someone associated with a group that wants to tax and regulate them to death?

  8. .

    #1119256, posted on December 21, 2013 at 7:51 am

    Not to worry. Stephen Koukoulas from the progressive think-tank Per Capita, their ABC’s The Drum and Crikey, says we’re all being ‘unrealistically pessimistic’ about the economy.

    Recent news:

    Year on year, Newstart/dole recipients UP by a whopping 20%.

    Merry Christmas.

  9. Tel

    Justice served would be Wayne Swan’s head presented on the Euromoney tea server.

    Real justice would be give them the whole Wayne Swan, still very much alive and force them to put him in charge of European monetary policy for 10 years.

  10. Tel

    I think the 2014 Budget is going to be absolutely brutal.

    The primary thing that government does in Australia is transfer wealth from some people to other people. The budget is then by necessity good for some and bad for others. It cannot be “brutal” nor can it be kind, it can only play favourites amongst the population to a greater or lesser extent.

  11. eb

    Over the long term , Tel, of course.

    But over the short term money may be transferred from overseas to Australians, and vice versa when debts need to be repaid. When the bill comes in the sum total of Australians’ cash flow must be negative; and that may indeed be “brutal”.

  12. Stateless, free and happy

    Tel, you are on the money. Many people just dont understand that even a surplus budget is likely to be redistributive, taking from some and giving to others.

  13. Can the new gummint get through the repeal of the Human Rights Commission Act 1986? I don’t mind them leaving the other bits of legislation in place eg. Racial Discrimination Act, with appropriate emendations, but the HRC Act can be repealed, surely, at a huge saving of money to everyone?

    $250,000 a year per Commissioner seems a very big bill for doing very little that actually helps the country.

    Ditto every other legislated quango in the land. Repeal the legislation and get rid of the statutory bodies, and save everyone money, time and hassle.

  14. Andrew

    Abolishing the Federal Departments of Health and Education is a good start. 10,000 public servants go immediately.

  15. Andrew of Randwick

    Abolish Federal Department of Health?

    Was cleaning out old emails – look at this wonderful initiative from 2011. Imagine the scoping, creative work, IT support, supervisors, managers, advisory committee and cross-departmental taskforce. Your taxes at work.
    And its still up, albeit with the last entry from Nov 2012.

  16. Andrew

    Environment. It’s job is to look at projects approved by state Dept of Envs, then decide (after consulting GetUp, Twitter, Mc457 and the Lemonsucker) whether it would be politically advantageous to say “fuck off, do it again.” It’s sole function is to destroy jobs – any way it can.

  17. Noddy

    Who voted Swann treasurer of the year?
    Does not say much for the rest of the world’s treasurers.
    My thoughts are along the line that Joe Hockey will not be any better… he will still follow the orthodox financial line.
    Taxes and debt will continue to escalate and Australia will be ‘screwed’ into the world economic order.
    See if you can get hold of a recently released book “Wolves in Australia’ by McGrath… one to confound the conspiracy theorists.
    Have a Happy Christmas… it may be your last chance!

  18. Fred Lenin

    Jail every member of the alp involved with the Krap giLIARd Krapper gummi,ts and MPs who supported them 2 years in jail for every million wasted put them in a Gulag and work theur asses off for life cleanse the PS and quangos ,and put the Bastards on the dole.abolish senate .state gummints and paid local councillors .reduce gummint ihterference,defund law and humanities faculties at unis ,now there is a good START with more to come

  19. .

    Imagine what Keating would have been like without a Senate, Fred.

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