Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas has revealed he is seeking to find $4bn worth of cuts in the state’s budget, as the Andrews government battles delays and cost blowouts on major projects and a sluggish economy.
Mr Pallas on Wednesday conceded his 2019-20 budget target of $1.8bn in savings over four years had been revised up to $4bn.
The news comes as the government faces delays amid a dispute on its West Gate Tunnel project, a $3bn blowout on its Metro Rail Tunnel, a court battle with local councils over the $16bn North East Link, and economic headwinds as a result of the bushfires and Coronavirus.
The Treasurer downplayed the situation, saying he did not “think people should be greatly concerned”.
“Any government that doesn’t look at its historic expenditure, doesn’t redirect that spend to equip not only its commitments, but also the changing priorities of the society … well I think they would need necessarily to be held to account,” Mr Pallas said.
“It is certainly my view that I am driving an efficient budget.
“I’m not having out of date, unproductive programs … and our aim will be to try and avoid losses in staff numbers, but to the extent that that’s not possible we have industrial obligations that we have to meet, and it will be a last resort.
“Our aim of course will be to ensure that every Victorian can have some confidence that in the current environment this government’s working as hard as it can to make sure they’re getting value for money out of the government spend.”
Asked what would be cut, Mr Pallas said there were “plenty” of options, refusing to rule out public service job losses.
He said the government was effectively cutting $1bn a year from an annual budget of approximately $60bn.
“I’m not running a lazy budget, and I’m not going to be in the position where the need for relevant and in need services is compromised by providing for long term and poor performing alternative programs,” Mr Pallas said.
Coalition treasury spokeswoman Louise Staley said cuts to hospitals had already resulted in waiting lists blowing out.
“The Treasurer needs to tell us where these new cuts, these new $4bn of cuts, are coming from,” Ms Staley said.
“The Treasurer is cutting $4bn, and he won’t tell Victorians, he won’t tell public servants where those cuts are coming from.
“Is it country hospitals? Is it country roads? Is it schools? He’s told us that he’s going through every line item. Nothing is off the table. He needs to tell us where those cuts are going to fall.”
Sourced by: The Australian