Liberals modest spending promises – Won’t match Labor’s $2 Billion Splurge

Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas said today that a Marshall Liberal Government would not be matching more than $2 billion of reckless spending promises made by Premier Weatherill and Treasurer Koutsantonis.
Sadly for South Australia Mr. Weatherill and Mr. Koutsantonis have been throwing money around like drunken sailors on shore leave.

A Marshall Liberal Government will not match Labor promises such as:

• $1,300 million 7 Level Crossings
• $279 million Tram to Norwood
• $259 million Tram to North Adelaide
• $150 million Housing Trust Replacement
• $150 million equity SA Port Authority
• $500 million loan SA Port Authority
• $70 million Laptops for students
• $60 million Investment Attraction funding ($30 m loans / $30 m grants)
• $13.4 million Trades Package
• $8 million Port Adelaide Football Club
• $6.4 million Adelaide Film Festival
• $4 million Chinatown redevelopment
• $ not available Taxi assistance
• $ not available Royalty payments to farmers
• Tens of millions of dollars - High speed internet for schools

These are Labor priorities and will not be priorities for the first term of a Marshall Liberal Government.
Priorities for a Marshall Liberal Government in its first term will concentrate on:

• More Jobs – abolishing payroll tax for all small businesses and cutting red tape
• Lower Costs – slashing Emergency Services Levy bills, capping council rates and Natural Resource Management (NRM) levies
• Better Services – restoring services at the Repat, Modbury, Noarlunga and the Queen Elizabeth Hospitals.

Major features of the Liberal costing document include:

1. Operating surpluses maintained over the forward estimates
2. Modest new operating expenditure promises of about $300 million per annum (including $45 million contingency over 3 years).
3. The 2017/18 budget included $580 million operating expenditure contingency for 2017/18 but the Government won’t reveal operating contingency each year for forward estimates – Liberal costings don’t assume utilization of any of this contingency.
4. Modest new capital works of $449 million over 3 years (in addition to existing forward estimates) funded out of unallocated capital contingency of $2,309 million outlined in 2017/18 budget.
5. Efficiency dividend of 0.75% for Health with all savings reinvested in new Health initiatives
6. Efficiency dividend of 1.70% for non-Health agencies.
7. Front line services such as doctors, teachers, nurses, police, etc will be quarantined from the efficiency dividend in a similar way to that announced by the Weatherill Government in the Mid-Year Budget Review (MYBR).
8. $75 million cut over 3 years in consultants and contractors
9. $15.7 million cut over 3 years in Ministerial staffers
10. $15 million cut over 3 years in Government advertising and communications
11. $14.3 million cut over 3 years in abolishing the Economic Development Board (EDB)
12. Whilst the Government hasn’t provided net operating balance for 2021/2022 the Liberal savings programme will still exceed new operating expenditure of $332 million
13. No impact on net debt estimates outlined in 2017/18 Mid-Year Budget Review (MYBR)

This costings document assumes the accuracy of the estimates included in the 2017/18 budget papers and the Mid-Year Budget Review (MYBR) update. The efficiency dividend is calculated as a percentage of total expenditure and its impact will vary between agencies due to the decision to quarantine front line services.

The Liberal efficiency dividend will be implemented in a similar way to the efficiency dividend imposed by Treasurer Koutsantonis in the MYBR in that there will be no hard jobs target. Ministers and CEOs will have to achieve the savings target required not a fixed job number.

At the time Mr. Koutsantonis told ABC Radio on 22 December 2017:

“What we’re asking our staff to do is find ways to become more efficient…hopefully we don’t lose any public servants, we haven’t set a target for job losses… what we’ll be doing is probably not recruiting against attrition for a while and not just seeing those jobs replaced..”

The current government policy on FTE job reduction was also outlined by Under Treasurer David Reynolds in evidence to the Legislative Council Budget and Finance Committee on 10th July 2017:

“Question by Rob Lucas:

On the basis of what you have just told us… and clearly what every agency says to us, whilst Treasury and the agencies agree on a notional FTE job reduction target, it is absolutely clear that there is no requirement in terms of job reductions anymore within government. If they can achieve their savings without any job reduction, as long as they achieve that savings and convince you it is an ongoing savings, that’s okay?

Answer by David Reynolds:

That’s correct.”

In addition to these savings measures a Marshall Liberal Government will also make further savings by removing 3 chauffeur driven cars from the Ministerial fleet. The entitlements for chauffeur driven cars for the Chair of Committees in the House of Assembly, Chair of the Economic and Finance Committee and Chair of the Environment, Resources and Development Committee will be removed.

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