While chatting with 612 ABC Brisbane’s Steve Austin and fellow interviewee Nick Behrens this afternoon, I almost chuckled when Steve asked me whether this Queensland state budget, in which total debt is projected to head toward $90 billion by 2022-23, meant the state government had abandoned the task of fixing up the budget and paying down the debt, or words to that effect.* As I argued in my book Beautiful One Day, Broke the Next, the state government did that several budgets ago, arguably in former Treasurer Curtis Pitt’s first budget with the notorious debt shuffle. This budget simply continues in the tradition of highly political budgets aimed at improving the government’s political prospects.
After federal Labor’s disastrous performance in regional Queensland, partly due to the state government’s alleged “go slow” on the Adani mega mine, this state budget had to be aimed at regional Queensland and as we’ve seen with various announcements regarding the new Gatton prison, AC in schools in hot regions, and the latest regional pork barreling fund, the government has tried to improve its prospects in the regions, as I discussed with Steve and Nick. You can hear the discussion, which I enjoyed immensely, from 1:03:17 at this link (which will self-destruct after about one week so the ABC can save its server storage space):
I was also interviewed by Ross Greenwood on 4BC and among other things we discussed the Adani mega mine:
*In the ABC radio interview I noted the new accounting treatment of leases makes comparisons with previous debt estimates a little tricky.
My book on how Queensland ended up with so much debt, available from the link above and at Folio bookstore on Edward St, Brisbane CBD.