Tasmania’s new treasurer won’t rule out sacking double the number of public servants the Liberals promised at the March state election.
The party pledged to shed 500 jobs without forced redundancies but a treasury report for the new government has revealed a $1.1 billion budget “black hole”.
The report recommends more than 1000 public service jobs be axed to address the deterioration of the bottom line.
Treasurer Peter Gutwein says the government will meet all of its election promises, including around $400 million in spending commitments.
But he has refused to rule out shedding more than 500 public service jobs.
“I’m not going to deal with hypotheticals in regards to what may come out of the budget process,” Mr Gutwein told reporters in Hobart.
The treasurer did rule out forced sackings but said his first budget, to be delivered in August, would be tough.
“The mess that we have been left with is significant,” he said.
“We are at a very difficult moment with regards to what was left by Labor and the Greens.
“If we want to put the budget back onto a pathway to sustainability …. there are going to need to be some tough decisions made.”
Shadow treasurer Scott Bacon said the Liberals had made “extravagant” election promises despite being warned about a deteriorating budget position.
“They squandered a chance to demonstrate prudent financial management,” Mr Bacon said in a statement.
“Now they’re trying to lump the blame with the previous government, despite Labor being up front about the budget position.”
The treasury report predicts accumulated deficits of $1.1 billion over the forward estimates and net debt of $400 million by 2016-17.
It says falling GST revenues and mineral royalties are the biggest factors.
Public service cuts of 1700 in the 2011-12 budget actually amounted to only 700, it says.
Mr Gutwein said he would aim for a return to surplus in six years.
“It is significantly worse than what anybody was expecting,” he said.