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Tuesday, 23 April 1985
Page: 1351

Senator REYNOLDS —I direct my question to the Minister for Finance. Is the Minister familiar with the Australian Bureau of Statistics' State government deficit figures which revealed that the Queensland Government's estimated deficit for 1983-84 was about $835m? Can the Minister indicate when the 1984-85 deficit figures will be made available? Does he anticipate any improvement in Queensland's deficit estimate?

Senator WALSH —With regard to the last part of the question, it was earlier expected that the 1984-85 estimates would be released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics today. It is now expected that they will be released tomorrow. Given the general state of the Queensland economy, I certainly do not expect that those ABS figures will show any improvement on the figures for the previous year. With regard to the earlier part of the question, it is correct, as Senator Reynolds said, that the State Budget deficit for 1983-84 was $835m. But that is not all the story; indeed it is less than half the story. The deficit of the State authorities which operate off-Budget was estimated at $914m. So the State Budget deficit for that year was approximately $335 per capita and the total public sector deficit, that is, the State Government Budget plus that of the State authorities, was $703 per capita. In other words, that clearly suggests that Queensland is heading down the Argentinian road. The rest of Australia will not go down that road, although I must add that it is made considerably more difficult for the rest of Australia to avoid going down that road as a result of the handicap that Queensland is currently imposing on the rest of the country.