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Costly blow-out in Australia's debt

By Alan Austin - posted Wednesday, 1 October 2014


The Abbott Government seems to have abandoned its pre-election commitment to reducing the nation's "skyrocketing debt". Borrowings have increased dramatically since the last election.

Now we know by how much.

Debt has increased by 13.7% over Labor's levels. Interest payments have risen a staggering 28.6% to more than thirty million dollars per day. In just the first ten months.

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The Final Budget Outcome 2013-14 was released last week by Treasurer Joe Hockey and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann. Buried in the long-awaited document is confirmation that net government debt at the end of June, ten months after the Coalition took office, has risen to $202.46 billion. (Table 11, page 20.) That's quite a blow-out.

The last monthly Finance Department report prepared under the previous Labor Government, for 31 August 2013, showed forecast end of year net debt at $178.10 billion.

The following monthly report, September 2013, prepared after the Coalition had taken charge, also showed projected year-end debt steady at $178.10 bn. So did the October and November reports.

In December, however, following several decisions by the incoming Treasurer, including abolishing the debt ceiling, the debt projection jumped to $191.52 billion.

This number was reaffirmed in January, February, March and April 2014. In May it was increased to $197.85 billion. Then, without notice, monthly reports ceased.

Clearly, the actual outcome under the Coalition is a cool $24.36 billion more than the debt forecast had Labor stayed on. Up 13.7%.

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Hockey has attempted to blame Labor:

"The Final Budget Outcome for the 2013-14 financial year is a budget report card on the previous Government's irresponsible fiscal and economic management."

Hardly. Mr Hockey has had more than 42 weeks – and a clear mandate – to reverse anything "irresponsible". Instead, wasteful spending has increased, including dubious travelfor ministers and their entourages, costly royal visits and expensive royal commissions.

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About the Author

Alan Austin is an Australian freelance journalist currently based in NÓmes in the South of France. His special interests are overseas development, Indigenous affairs and the interface between the religious communities and secular government. As a freelance writer, Alan has worked for many media outlets over the years and been published in most Australian newspapers. He worked for eight years with ABC Radio and Televisionís religious broadcasts unit and seven years with World Vision. His most recent part-time appointment was with the Uniting Church magazine Crosslight.

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