By ERWIN CHLANDA
Getting rid of some ministers and their bloated support staff, each team costing more than $1.5m a year, would be a good way too start tackling the government’s fiscal emergency, says Opposition Leader Gary Higgins (pictured).
“There is absolutely no reason there needs to be a Cabinet of nine. I hope the Chief Minister isn’t wedded to keeping his ministry at nine just to keep his restless backbench onside,” he says in a media statement.
“We need small government going forward and the Chief Minister needs to set an example from the top if he wants to change the reckless spending culture.”
The Opposition also suggests a freeze on executive recruitment.
Meanwhile the government says in a media statement that it has begun “a root and branch examination of Government expenditure [to] assess agency programs against the government’s key priorities of creating jobs and attracting investment; creating generational change which will reduce demand for government services in the medium to long term; increasing community safety and cohesion and enhancing transparency and integrity of government”.
Government chief executives will be required to appear before the Budget Review Sub Committee to show how agency programs align with these key priorities.
“Efficiencies identified will be announced as part of the Budget 2019 and will be focused on curbing expenditure growth to bring the budget into operational balance over the medium term,” says the statement.
Says Mr Higgins: “We are living beyond our means. Reducing expenditure growth from 6% to 3% is a small step but it is still growth and still needs addressing.
“It’s like just making the minimum payments on your credit card and continuing to spend on it.
“In 2012 we inherited a net debt of $3.5 billion. By 2016 we had reduced that to $1.8 billion. Now it’s projected to be $35.7 billion in 2029/30.”
By ERWIN CHLANDA