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Nicholls refrains from criticising Costello on debt tax stance shift

Date

Amy Remeikis

Queensland Treasurer Tim Nicholls noted Peter Costello’s “difference in opinion...over the last two years” over the former federal treasurer’s criticism of the Abbott government debt tax, but stopped short of criticising the architect of the state’s commission of audit.

Mr Costello led the audit of Queensland’s finances, which was commissioned shortly after the LNP government came to power in 2012.

One of its recommendations was a “budget deficit levy” of at least $100 on all ratepayers.  It was quickly ruled out by the government, which chose to slash the public service by 14,000 jobs and cut services and spending instead.

Earlier this week, Mr Costello wrote in his regular News Corp column that he considered the proposed Abbott-government debt levy to be a mistake.

“Last week the government floated the idea of raising tax as a way of “sharing the pain” so everyone would shoulder the burden of fixing the budget,” Mr Costello wrote.

“It is important to note this is a political argument.

"The proposed tax “levy” has no economic benefit. It will detract from growth by reducing consumption. It will produce no interest rate reduction and, if it lasts four years and raises $10 billion, the most it could save would be $400 million in annual interest — hardly enough to touch the sides of the annual $12 billion government financing requirement.”

Mr Nicholls, who has been given the job of selling another of the state’s commission of audit recommendations – asset sales – to a hostile electorate, said while he had not read all of Mr Costello’s column, he “did notice the difference in opinion, though over the last two years”.

He put that down to the difference between the state’s economic woes and those faced at a federal level.

“I think in the context that he was talking about, the amount of the levy that was proposed would not be enough to solve that problem,” Mr Nicholls said.

“The problem at a federal level is obviously of a magnitude greater than here in Queensland, so I think it was the effectiveness of the proposal rather than the proposal itself that he was talking about. I think he was questioning whether that would be effective

“But maybe that is a question better directed to Peter Costello.  It would be a very brave person who would put words in his mouth.”

The state government will announce its plan to “tackle Labor’s $80 billion debt” on June 3.

14 comments

  • QLD LNP deadmen walking, Abbott and Co are going to follow!

    Commenter
    Rosie
    Date and time
    May 09, 2014, 5:07PM
    • Check out Poll Bludger - LNP polling -10.2% swing in QLD .
      If the LNP go through with asset sales the sky is the limit in voting swings next year

      Commenter
      GT 101
      Location
      Highgate Hill
      Date and time
      May 09, 2014, 5:29PM
  • You're kidding, they touted this guy as a genius (which he clearly never was, he just kinds stumbled into the job as federal treasurer) and now he's not up to the task?

    Wow, the LNP knows no ends to it's politically lethal cutting of ties or hypocrisy.

    I sincerely think that they have no idea what they're doing, perhaps they spent far too much time in the political wilderness and used Clive Palmer's donations to buy Newman's outrageous financial demands whilst waiting in the shadows - when nobody really knew if he was actually allowed to comment on behalf of the LNP - and it all turned backwards.

    Now they have to actually do stuff and have no idea what to do. Newman's fallback is just to reverse anything that the Labor party did, That's not policy, it's ideology. It's not putting Queensland first.

    And putting Costello in charge of an 'independent' audit is the most bizarre way to present your goals of apparent transparency and accountability.

    Commenter
    JoBlo
    Location
    Here
    Date and time
    May 09, 2014, 5:44PM
    • The Commission of audit and Labour's debt and deficit play is getting pretty boring and the Queensland vote has seen through it just as the Australian voter will.

      What is being studiously ignored i the truth that there is a good debt and there is bad debt. Good debt provides a bigger pay-off in return for a lower cost. The twisted logic of what could be done if we pay off $80 billion with the interest no longer payable is a joke f the borrowing has indeed provided $80 billions worth of value to the taxpayer. Let's some balance in this debate. As I say Queenslanders have seen throughout this spin and the $6m spent on the deceptive website; soon Australians nationally will see the same fancy footwork and spin from Blowhard Joe when he delivers his budget on Tuesday next.

      Commenter
      Clive
      Location
      Manly West
      Date and time
      May 09, 2014, 5:45PM
      • Selling CITEC is just bizarre. Outsourcing IT has ended up costing substantially more for every government that tries it. It's like these guys just walk around with their fingers in their ears going 'blah blah blah' when questioned on the actual math or historical prudence of what they're proposing.

        This term comes up every single time a government proposes privatising. Efficiency.

        They claim that the private industry can do it more more efficiently yet fail to explain how that benefits taxpayers.

        Efficiency is a massively scalable metric, it can slide all over the place and whilst technically correct in one single instance, it can be massively wrong in many others. The bottom line is that sales of ports have resulted in massive increases in costs to consumers, sales of toll roads have resulted in massive increases in costs to consumers, sales of energy producing enterprises have resulted in massive increases in costs to consumers.

        So the most attractive assets that we currently own are the ones we are best left owning.

        And let's remember, assets are businesses that bring in an income, why on earth would you sell that to someone else for a one time benefit?

        Commenter
        JoBlo
        Location
        Here
        Date and time
        May 09, 2014, 6:34PM
    • Look! In the wind!

      There goes the last fig leaf covering the LNP's shameful lie - the Costello Audit which it used as an excuse for sacking 14,000 people.

      If you still believe the LNP, you haven't been paying attention.

      Commenter
      Sean
      Date and time
      May 09, 2014, 5:59PM
      • Nicholls is a waste of space. Sadly, so are the rest of Newman's team. And Abbott is proving no better.

        Commenter
        Ted
        Date and time
        May 09, 2014, 6:10PM
        • The people have spoken.... but apparently "strong choices" is doing what you always intended to do, rather than do what you were elected to do...... represent the people.

          When you have hidden your policies to get in, then run an pro privatization agenda set by your business mates, based on less than independent auditing done with questionable accounting practices.......

          There will be a reckoning.

          Commenter
          the aviator
          Date and time
          May 09, 2014, 6:34PM
          • Welcome to the FIRE SALE of Australia brought to you all by the CHAOTIC LNP government.

            Commenter
            oldfella67
            Date and time
            May 09, 2014, 7:04PM
            • I'm confused. Qld supposedly was in such a mess we needed austerity. Yet not a debt levy. The Cth debt is quite small be world standards and even earnt a AAA rating recently. Yet Mr Nicholls says the Cth debt is an order of magnitude bigger than Qld's, but a debt tax wouldn't help?? A different story for every set of eyes.

              Commenter
              Graeme
              Date and time
              May 09, 2014, 8:26PM

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