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Thursday, 22 September 1983
Page: 1227

Mr HAWKER(10.00) —Last night the Victorian Cain Labor Government brought down its second Budget. As a Victorian, I have to admit that I have grave concern about this Budget. The Victorian Treasurer, Mr Jolly, stated as required by law that the Consolidated Fund would be balanced in 1983-84. In other words, the Budget will be balanced, something we should be pleased to note . In his Budget the Victorian Treasurer has increased State taxes by over $200m. Included in this rise is yet another increase in the price of petrol. Already Victorians have faced two increases in the price of petrol from the Federal Government in less than six months. Now the State Labor Government is hopping in for its cut too. This is one area on which the Federal and State Labor governments agree. By the reckless pushing up of petrol prices, country people are to be disadvantaged by a Labor government yet again. It is very clear that Labor cares nothing for rural Australia. Not only do country people have to pay more for travel under Labor, but the freight on everything country people buy and sell will rise too. It is no wonder the State political reporter for the Age said today:

The Government has now so comprehensively broken its election pledges to hold down taxes and charges, that few people would have been surprised by the new slugs announced in the Budget yesterday.

In its first 18 months the State Government has raised State taxes by over $20 a week for every Victorian household. Added to the $15 a week extra all householders have to pay after the Federal Budget, that makes over $35 a week extra expenditure for every Victorian household since Labor took over in Victoria.

Let us look a bit further at the Victorian Labor Budget. It has to be a balanced Budget, but when we look closely we begin to see the extraordinary juggling that the State Treasurer has done to achieve this balance. We find that the State has started using its instrumentalities as tax collectors. Since the Cain Government came to power last year electricity charges have gone up by 30 per cent and gas prices have gone up even more. This is what is called taxing through the back door. The only trouble is that it all comes out of the same front door pay packet. Then we find that the Treasurer has indulged in what is known as creative accounting. 'Creative' is the right word because, just as in the Cain Government's first Budget, State expenditure in fact exceeds revenue raised by the normal methods by several hundred million dollars. In order to balance the books the Government has started selling off the State's assests. In some cases we have seen the extraordinary situation of an asset being sold and then leased back. When one considers that some of these assets being hocked belong to State monopolies such as the railways, one wonders who puts the value on the assets. As reported in today's Age, without the so-called creative accounting the State Budget deficit is estimated to be over $800m. When that is added to last year's similar real deficit, the Victorian Labor Government has run up a bill approaching $1,500m. Yet it claims to have balanced the books. With the aid of creative accounting, it seems to be a case of having a deficit when one does not have a deficit.

Mr Tuckey —A Clayton's deficit.

Mr HAWKER —That is right, a Clayton's deficit. All Victorians-with respect, Mr Speaker, I include you-must view with grave concern this State Budget announced last night. Since gaining office 18 months ago the State Labor Government not only raised State taxes by 28 per cent but also run up a real deficit of $1,500m . Victoria is now seeing a double dose of Labor, with higher taxes and higher deficits. This will prove to be remarkably shortsighted, for the trouble is that all Victorians will have to pay for the State Labor Government's shortsightedness.