Victoria’s financial landscape under Labor’s stewardship increasingly perilous

Victoria’s financial landscape under Labor’s stewardship increasingly perilous

Former Premier Dan Andrews asserted that we could have “not rail or hospitals” but both, referencing the Old El Paso advertisement. However, Labor’s most recent budget shows this was never possible.

The ratings agencies are beginning to express concern and increasingly everyday Victorians are paying the price for Labor’s attempt to have its cake and eat it too.

Despite these attempts to hoodwink Victorians, the price of this attitude is becoming clear. Net debt is expected to skyrocket to a staggering $188 billion by 2028. We already have more debt than New South Wales, Queensland, and Tasmania combined. But don’t be fooled – it won’t be other people paying for it – it will be you.

By 2028, interest payments will reach $26 million per day – enough to build an early parenting centre every single day. To pay for this debt and spending, taxation revenue will increase by five per cent every year – despite our overall income increasing by only half that. Since Labor has been in power – nearly a decade now – it has introduced or increased 55 taxes.

Some of them might appear to hit the top end of town or landlords, but it’s everyday Victorians that end up paying. For example, I recently visited Sparkling Beverages in the outer north of my electorate. Sparkling Beverages is a medium-sized business that supplies Woolworths with carbonated beverages.

This business has been slugged with a waste levy, and increased payroll tax and WorkCover premiums. Small hardworking manufacturers aren’t a piggy bank to pinch money from, ultimately someone must pay for this. The costs could then be passed on to Woolworths which in turn passes it on to Victorians at the checkout.

It’s the same story when it comes to rentals. Of the 55 new or increased taxes since Labor’s election in 2014, 29 are on property, much of this cost gets passed on to renters. Renters who are often young people and those unable to afford to buy their own home – the latter made more difficult by Labor. According to the Urban Development Institute of Australia, up to 42 per cent of the cost of a new home is taxes, fees, and charges.

Labor’s reckless infrastructure spending – with total cost blowouts exceeding $40 billon, including huge blowouts on the North East Link and West Gate Tunnel, is a key source of the problem. We all want better infrastructure, but the reality is that it comes at a cost. Sometimes that cost is too high.

A prime example is the Suburban Rail Loop, which is not endorsed by any transport expert and according to the Victorian Auditor-General will return only half the benefit that it costs. A report by the Independent Auditor-General found that the first two stages of the project will cost $216 billion.

We know we cannot have our cake and eat it too. This mega project means Victorians will pay more tax and miss out on other worthy – and often far more compelling projects. In the northern part of my electorate, locals suffer terrible frequency on the Upfield Line, the northern part of which still is not duplicated. Further north locals in Donnybrook and Wallan still have no electrified rail service – despite now living on the outskirts of Melbourne.

Victorians deserve a government that can prudently and respectively manage their money, not one that thinks a billion dollars is just a rounding error, as Premier Jacinta Allan has suggested. We need to ensure the long-term sustainability of the services that Victorians need, infrastructure spending is paced and well-managed and that the Victorian people are not treated like a cash cow. Victorians deserve be rewarded for effort, not continually punished.

Evan Mulholland is the Liberal Member for the Northern Metropolitan Region

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