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April 23, 2014 6:32 AM   Subscribe

It's simple. Just say Yes. Campbell Newman’s LNP government has asked the residents of Queensland to help balance their budget. Strong Choices is an online survey giving respondents the opportunity to suggest reduction targets by selecting taxation or reduction in services or benefits. Problem is, there doesn't seem to be much choice. If you’d like to play along, you’ll need a Queensland postcode. I chose Mooloolaba.
posted by michswiss (22 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Metafilter was such a nice place, and you had to "Campbell Newman" it.
posted by Mezentian at 7:03 AM on April 23 [3 favorites]


Funny, there's no option for "lobby Tony Abbott to take more money from WA" in this people's budget.
posted by Talez at 7:04 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Funny, there's no option for "lobby Tony Abbott to take more money from WA" in this people's budget.

There ain't no PUPies in Qld's Parliament.
Yet.
(Are there?)
posted by Mezentian at 7:06 AM on April 23


Also, I'm just doing this, and this quiz is HOCKEYAN in its evil.
posted by Mezentian at 7:08 AM on April 23


Really? Because I raised taxes on the rich and mining companies and successfully brought the government to $1.3b surplus without touching anything but those bullshit teacher performance payments.
posted by Talez at 7:21 AM on April 23 [3 favorites]


Why are the only two options on these types of things always "Close Neonatal hospital beds" or "Raise Taxes on the Poor"?
posted by blue_beetle at 7:51 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Is 190,000 a big or a small or an about-right number of public servants for 4.7 million people? I simply don't know. We had a similar discussion in WA last year, which was also led by dipshits.
posted by barnacles at 8:07 AM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Mining royalties: +$8.8B
Gambling taxes: +$2.7B
Increase duty on all properties: +$6.2B
Introduce a land tax: +$10.5B
Increase taxes on all existing properties: +$2.4B
Increase motor vehicle registration: +$5.8B
Increase emergency levy by 75%: +$.9B
Abolish light and heavy vehicle and boating registration concessions: +$.4B
Introduce an annual state debt reduction level of $1000: +$6.5B

Bam! That's about $45 billion. This is fun. When do I get to increase social spending?
posted by barnacles at 8:16 AM on April 23 [2 favorites]


What I want to know is what the hell they mean by "Obtain private sector funding for electricity distribution and transmission businesses." It's by far the biggest savings item in the whole questionnaire, enough to shift the debt into the target zone all by itself, but the description is so vague as to be meaningless. I know a little bit about electricity distribution and regulation (I've worked in two different tangentially related fields, and have a couple relatives who have worked in the field both from the government and private sector end), and I can't make heads or tails of it. If you go to the sources, they basically seem to be assuming that they can somehow cash out the entire value of three state-owned energy companies.

Presumably this is privatization in all but name, which may or may not be a bad idea, but they seem to be going to awfully long lengths to hide that fact.
posted by firechicago at 8:24 AM on April 23



Really? Because I raised taxes on the rich and mining companies

and
Mining royalties: +$8.8B

I am not handy to the figures, and I am going to assume the quiz ignores the Gladstone LNG plants that are starting up from soon and a few years.

But if Qld increases royalties on resources then the Commonwealth will cut the GST,
And if you increase taxes you will send investment dollars to, say, Mongolia, where they will dig the coal out of the ground for less (but the government will demand a free-carried share).

Sorry.
Carry on.


Introduce a land tax: +$10.5B
Increase taxes on all existing properties: +$2.4B
Increase motor vehicle registration: +$5.8B
Increase emergency levy by 75%: +$.9B


Someone doesn't live in Qld and is okay with regressive taxes.
posted by Mezentian at 8:38 AM on April 23


Yeah, I got into sustainable easily, but more than half of my proposed budget is through selling/leasing things. This seems a lot easier than the NYT spending proposals.
posted by corb at 8:39 AM on April 23


but more than half of my proposed budget is through selling/leasing things

Congratulations!
Welcome to the Liberals!
Here's a $3000 bottle of plonk.
No need to thank us.
posted by Mezentian at 8:43 AM on April 23 [4 favorites]


What I want to know is what the hell they mean by "Obtain private sector funding for electricity distribution and transmission businesses."

Last time I saw the plan was partial sale of the government-owned companies that generate and distribute electricity, plus "long-term" leases of some shipping ports. It's hard to keep up though, and the LNP are hardly being open about their plans.

It seems that at both state and federal level a bunch of decisions have been made around how the next budgets are going to look, and there is a bunch of media work being done at the moment to make it seem like the decisions already made are the best and only ones possible, and also that they haven't already been made.
posted by markr at 3:28 PM on April 23


I may be missing something here...

After your budget has provided savings, you're then asked how you want to spend the savings in the $4 billion in interest the government pays annually to service the debt. So I was offered the chance to spend my $1.3 billion in savings. But why would I reduce the spending on page 2 just to put it back on page 3?
posted by Sedition at 4:45 PM on April 23


But why would I reduce the spending on page 2 just to put it back on page 3?

That's the magic of economics, my friend.

Plus, the electoral cycle goes like this:
Year 1: Cut hard, cut deep.
Year 2: Cut some more.
Year 3: Neutral budget. Promise a bright new future.
Year 4: MONORAIL!

That leads to re-election and so it goes.
posted by Mezentian at 5:34 PM on April 23 [1 favorite]


Mezentian: "Someone doesn't live in Qld and is okay with regressive taxes."

True on the first part. I'm not sure my state's that different, though (well, the sun sets over our ocean, rather than rises). On the second, I'd love to slap some monstrously progressive taxes on the businesses and the wealthy -- watch me go! -- but naturally that's something that's not anywhere on the cards.

No no no, instead we have to cut teachers and health funding and the like. Can't have a serious talk about changing taxation, nosir. Now watch me fly my $12 billion fleet of airplanes.
posted by barnacles at 7:29 PM on April 23


Newman will lose his seat at the next election. His goal is to set up a soft landing with his chums in the private sector. If he plays it right, we'll see him pop up on the board of the companies he's planning to give our assets to.

To do this, he has to break an election promise. It's two years since the election so he can probably just do that with a bald-faced lie. But if he can demonstrate that "the electorate want it" with his (rather pretty) web app, he can probably shut some of the noise down.

I'm hoping that Labor runs out of feet to shoot itself in before the next election. Vain hope, I suspect. "See own foot, pull trigger" seems to be a core Labor value.
posted by Combat Wombat at 9:25 PM on April 23


This is pretty, but terrible.

Source for figures: http://www.treasury.qld.gov.au/office/knowledge/docs/mid-year-review/mid-year-review-2013-14.pdf.

1) The "$80b of debt" figure is misleading. It is arrived at by combining the gross borrowing of the GGS (government departments) and PNFC (government-owned companies that operate on a mostly commercial basis) sectors. This is not the measure I would use to describe the financial health of a government. Especially bad is including PNFC figures: the borrowings of a PNFC are irrelevant as the value of these companies is already included in the assets of the GGS.

A much better measure of financial health would either be the net financial worth or the net debt of the Queensland GGS - which are -$21.0b and $9.2b respectively in 2013-14.

2) Furthermore, the description of "$80b of debt" as "unsustainable" is misleading. This $80b figure is estimated to remain constant from 2013-14 to 2016-17. GGS net debt falls from $9.2b in 2013-14 to $8.6b in 2016-17, and GGS net financial worth rises from $-21.0b in 2013-14 to -$14.9b in 2016-17. Merely staying the course and avoiding significant changes to expenses and revenues means you slowly work at improving your net financial worth.

3) The worry about interest payments is overstated. GGS gross interest expenses were $2.1b in 2013-14, or around 4.5 per cent of total expenses. GGS gross interest revenue was $2.3b in 2013-14, so net interest activities are a positive $0.2b impact on fiscal balance in 2013-14. All in all, not a cause for concern. Sure, it'd be nice if you didn't have to pay it, but it interest expenses of 4.5 per cent is a low level.

There's another $2b in PNFC interest expenses, but as above, you shouldn't be worrying about the activities of PNFCs when looking at solving GGS budget problems, with the possible exception of reaping more dividends.

4) What I want to know is what the hell they mean by "Obtain private sector funding for electricity distribution and transmission businesses."

This is the amount of money (actually, the sums look wrong - I add it up to be $27.918b, not $28.391b) you get if you sell all the PP&E of Powerlink, Energex and Ergon and then the new private sector owners give you back free financial leases for all that PP&E you just lost. In a world where consequences exist, the NPV of this is $0, at best.

5) Mass confusion of stocks and flows throughout, but I don't have the energy to unpick them all.

All in all, not a useful contribution to public debate.
posted by kithrater at 12:45 AM on April 24 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure my state's that different, though (well, the sun sets over our ocean, rather than rises).
Oh, no, sir.
WA is even more conservative than Qld.

Moreso, now we are the high-vis state.

On the second, I'd love to slap some monstrously progressive taxes on the businesses and the wealthy -- watch me go! -- but naturally that's something that's not anywhere on the cards.

Which is a pity. The RSPT was a fantastic tax. Well designed, and awesome.
A tax on super profits from natural resources being sold into a boom economy?
Who could argue with that?
(Also, a tax on pollution? Sure, why not? Who would think that was a bad idea?)

*cries*

No no no, instead we have to cut teachers and health funding and the like. Can't have a serious talk about changing taxation, nosir. Now watch me fly my $12 billion fleet of airplanes.

Hey now, those planes aren't cheap (they cost a lot to run per annum), and they're a b-grade tech that we won't get delivered for a decade.

But, boy howdy, you plebs better work until you're 70 to pay for them.
posted by Mezentian at 12:58 AM on April 24


Newman: Not a useful contribution to public debate.
posted by Mezentian at 12:59 AM on April 24 [1 favorite]


Thank you kithrater. I have made the elementary mistake of trusting this government about +anything+.

(buries nose in pdf)
posted by Combat Wombat at 1:03 AM on April 24


I have made the elementary mistake of trusting this government

Thui fact is so facty, there are not enough "upvotes" (such as they are) to upvote this.
posted by Mezentian at 8:10 AM on April 24


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