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Australia'Paying their own way': Trad defends state debt

09:01  12 june  2019
09:01  12 june  2019 Source:   brisbanetimes.com.au

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Treasurer Jackie Trad has defended Queensland's billion debt bill as being used to power the state , while an economist has warned it must be paid back. Treasurer Jackie Trad has launched a defence of the state 's .72 billion debt bill, arguing it is "working debt " mostly racked up by energy

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'Paying their own way': Trad defends state debt© AAP Image/ Dave Hunt Treasury Jackie Trad has defended the state's debt bill, saying government-owned corporations were using "working debt" and delivering dividends back to government.

Treasurer Jackie Trad has launched a defence of the state's $90.72 billion debt bill, arguing it is "working debt" that will largely pay itself off via dividends.

'Paying their own way': Trad defends state debt
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Ms Trad handed down her second budget as Treasurer on Tuesday, unveiling more debt, expanded taxes and continued surpluses.

General government sector debt, which includes government departments, was predicted to be $38.73 billion in 2019-20.

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In comparison, total debt held by the "non-financial public sector", which includes government-owned corporations such as Stanwell and the Port of Townsville, was expected to hit $78.72 billion next year.

Those debt figures include leases, such as office accommodation such as 1 William Street and securities and derivatives, which must now be recognised on the balance sheet under new accounting standards.

Addressing a Queensland Labor post-budget lunch on Wednesday, Ms Trad said most of the debt was held by government-owned corporations.

"They act commercially, they provide a dividend back to the state coffers and they also pay down their own debt," she said.

"A lot of the debt is actually working debt for our government-owned corporations, for energy generators, for our ports, Townsville Port, Fair North Queensland Ports, so these are all economic infrastructure and corporations that are paying their own way."

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The sector was expected to generate $1.37 billion in dividends in 2019-20, which would be used to fund hospitals, schools and police, according to the state budget papers.

Ms Trad insisted the state government was borrowing to build infrastructure for Queensland.

EY Oceania chief economist Jo Masters said there was "good debt and bad debt" and borrowings could be successfully used to support the economy.

"It is critical that debt is used for projects that build productive capacity in the future," she said.

"It's really important not to forget that when we increase [the] debt level, when we use debt, we are borrowing economic activity from the future.

"If we don't repay that debt and we don't build productive capacity, we are actually leaving a burden for young Australians."

On Tuesday, Ms Trad insisted the state government still had a debt reduction strategy and would continue to find savings.

The public service will be one area where the state government will seek to slash expenses, with $700 million to be saved over the next two years.

Employee expenses and superannuation will make up almost half of the state government's total expenses in 2019-20, coming in at more than $29 billion.

Ms Trad has ruled out forced redundancies but voluntary redundancies will remain on the table.

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