27

May 2016

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Attending the Tasmanian Budget breakfast this morning there was a lot to look forward to:  terrible coffee (check), lots of guys in suits (check), questions from Edward Harry about support for small business (let down), spiel from the TCCI about what a great job they are doing (check, but no 'back in black' music this year) and a speech from no-longer-new, Treasurer Gutwein.

Unexpected bonus:  Tasmanian Local Government celebrity Ald. Jenny Brach-Allen asked a question.

If he was being accurate in his presentation, Treasurer Gutwein would have explained that by plodding along an almost identical fiscal strategy to the one implemented by the former government, Tasmania has arrived at a surplus at the time it was projected to.

Instead, we got a presentation which, if I had a copy, I would highlight was disingenuous in pretty much every slide.

I haven't, so I have recreated the highlight of the ridiculous.  The below graph is recreated, but I have checked with a fellow attendee who remembers it this way as well.  I'm pretty confident this is it:

World's dodgiest graph recreated from this morning's TCCI breakfast

The graph claims to highlight the improvement the majority Hodgman Liberal Government (that's what they actually call in documents with Tresaury's logo on it) has made to the operating position of the Tasmanian Government by comparing it to the previous Government.

The term 'compare apples with apples', obviously doesn't apply to the Treasurer, who decided to not only compare different years (2013-17 for Labor and 2016-20 for himself) but different sources.  Instead of using the last budget Labor delivered as his source material (2013-14), the Treasurer used numbers out of his 'risks report'.  A report which was designed for that special moment every new government craves: the 'things are way worse than we thought' moment, when you announce the old government was terrible and you are going to save the day.

Not only that, Treasurer Gutwein decided to compare different years. 

An accurate graph would simply be the below.

Operating surplus: Comparing 2016-17 operating outcomes from two Tasmanian State budgets.

Operating Surplus

  • The 2016-17 Budget shows a $77m operation surplus this year.
  • The 2013-14 Budget estimated a surplus of $9.9m for the same year

GST Receipts

  • The 2013-14 Budget estimated GST receipts of $2318.8m this year.
  • This year's budget shows only a slight detrition to $2299.2m (-$19.6m).

Expenditure

  • The 2013-14 Budget estimated expenditure of $5229.4m this year.
  • This Budget shows expenditure actually increasing from that to $5496.3, despite the savings.

So the truth?  Treasurer Gutwein has both raised more money and spent more money than Treasury was anticipating back in 2013-14.  Take away his Spirit of Tasmania revenue and he's only just ahead of the 2013-14 projection for this year.

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