Qld budget surplus timetable remains the same – how about something more ambitious?

Although the report that the Queensland Government is borrowing to meet recurrent expenses, including to meet public servants’ wages, was presented as something new and surprising, this has been set out clearly in recent budget papers, including the mid-year fiscal and economic review (see Table 11 on p. 29). In the language of the budget papers, Queensland is running a net operating deficit of around $2.9 billion in 2011-12 and is projected to run net operating deficits until 2013-14, with a small net operating surplus of $60 million in 2014-15. These figures relate of course to the previous Government’s fiscal strategy, but it surprised me that the Newman Government has not set a more ambitious timetable for a return to surplus. As the Courier-Mail reported yesterday, Treasurer Tim Nicholls noted:

“At the moment we’re looking at deficits up until about 2013/14 … we’re hopeful of being able to bring it back into a balanced or surplus position by 2014/15.”

So the new Government is expecting a return to surplus in the same financial year as the previous Government. Couldn’t the Government set itself a more ambitious target – say a return to surplus by 2013-14 or aim for a $1 billion surplus in 2014-15?

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