It was sad news indeed today that Wayne Goss has died at what is now a relatively young age of 63. He certainly made a fine contribution to Queensland during his years as Premier. In addition to the electoral and social reforms that are being widely commented on, his Government made important economic reforms, such as the corporatisation of Queensland Rail. Furthermore, his Government was committed to maintaining Queensland’s AAA credit rating and low tax State status.
But the Goss Government’s strong economic management was unpopular with many in the Queensland community and ultimately cost it votes. Cuts to rail services were very unpopular in regional Queensland. And the Government’s commitment to a AAA rating and low tax status meant unpopular restraint in health and education spending.
Given the current fiscal situation Queensland finds itself in, the economic management of the Goss Government is something that should be remembered fondly. As a later Queensland Government showed, once fiscal discipline is abandoned, and the AAA credit rating is no longer seen as something to value, debt can grow quickly to levels not previously contemplated, as it has in Queensland to $80 billion.