Liberals' budget warning

THE incoming Liberal government has called on Treasury officials to produce a budget update quantifying risks to the state's finances.

Liberal treasury spokesman Peter Gutwein said a number of risks to the budget had been identified during post-election briefings with Treasury.

``There are a range of risks that are identified in the mid-year financial report, we've asked Treasury to quantify those, and we'll be releasing that information publicly,'' Mr Gutwein said.

He said he would not speculate on whether the budget was in a worse position than the Liberals first thought.

In a mid-year financial report published last month, Treasury predicted that the state was heading for four years of deficits up to $375 million. 

The Liberal Party has set a target to deliver a surplus in its first term of government.

Tasmanian Greens leader Nick McKim said yesterday's announcement from Mr  Gutwein was an ``off-the-shelf'' tactic used by incoming Liberal governments around the country.

``First they will claim that there is some kind of hidden budget problem, and then they will come out and use the fake problem as an excuse to start breaking their promises,'' Mr McKim said.

``Only two days after winning the election, the Liberal Party has already begun treating Tasmanians with contempt.''

Outgoing premier Lara Giddings said the Liberal Party was aware of significant risks to the budget before going into the election.

``The Risks and Disclosures section on page 24 of the Mid-Year Financial Review outlined all the issues that could impact on the budget,'' Ms Giddings said.

``If Peter Gutwein wanted more information on any of these points, he could have requested a briefing under caretaker conventions.

``Now, just two days after the election, they have suddenly realised the money they have promised simply doesn't exist.''

However, Mr Gutwein said the party would stand by its full suite of campaign promises, which totalled almost $400 million.

``We stand by all the commitment we have made, and they will be delivered over the term of government,'' Mr Gutwein said.

``Our savings measures we announced are clear, they are sensible, and we will be delivering those. They will enable us to deliver the spending initiatives we have announced.''

Mr Gutwein said a $112 million ``buffer'' between their spending and saving promises would hold them in good stead.

He said planned reductions to the public sector would not be affected by the budget update.

The Liberals promised to slash 500 full-time public service jobs within their first term.

The budget update will be released within five or six weeks.


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