Vic debt will leave state ‘exposed’: Libs

Climbing government debt despite financial windfalls and mounting taxes on Victorians have been attacked by the state’s opposition in its budget reply.


Speaking at a Liberal fundraising lunch in Melbourne on Friday, Shadow Treasurer Michael O’Brien accused the Andrews government of not doing enough to tackle the cost of living and increasing crime.

The Labor government delivered its third budget on Tuesday, revealing $1.9 billion over four years to fight family violence and a $1.2 billion surplus for 2017/18.

It also showed debt was to spiral to $29 billion, or about six per cent of gross state product, by 2021 – a climb Treasurer Tim Pallas has urged Victorians to embrace.

Tax income has also grown massively, partly due to the real estate boom.

But Mr O’Brien pounced on the government for increasing debt despite the growing tax income and Melbourne Port lease sale windfalls.

And he said the government’s higher spending and debt based on cyclical revenue was a risk.

“Our budget is now hugely dependent on the heat of the property market and expecting that to continue,” he said.

“But even the budget papers acknowledge if interest rates rise and the property market cools, our budget will be extremely exposed.”

With 18 months until the state election, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy used the event to rally the party faithful around his “hungry” team.

He and Mr O’Brien also accused the government of being more concerned with political point scoring when it came to the commonwealth than working with Turnbull government.

Ahead of the state and federal budget, the Victorian government revealed a $1.45 billion rail revival plan entirely dependent on commonwealth money.