The spin surrounding the Queensland mid-year budget review was interesting and a bit puzzling. All the initial spin was gloom and doom, in keeping with the government’s claim that the dire state of the budget necessitated asset sales. But it turned out that the deterioration in the budget was entirely due to a couple of fairly arbitrary accounting entries for extraordinary items – a projected loss on land purchased for the failed Traveston Dam project and some federal government money that was not going to come in. The underlying picture was an improvement f $800 million a year. This more than cancelled out the deterioration between the pre-election economic statement in February and the post-election budget in June.
I was set to take this nonsense on but by the next day, Treasurer Andrew Fraser was singing a very different song, saying
Treasurer Andrew Fraser described the losses as a “mask” hiding a raft of stronger indicators, including a forecast of 1 per cent growth this year after the previous negative 0.25 per cent.
It is really hard to make sense of this
fn1. This claim doesn’t make much sense. In general, if privatisation is good (or bad), a change in the budget position won’t affect that. About the only case to the contrary is where public ownership provides services that are not paid for by users. In this case, asset sales are like an expenditure cut. But that doesn’t seem to be applicable in most of the cases we are looking at here,