The Australian | 4 December 2012
The NSW government won’t back down from its $1.7 billion education cuts, including $800 million from TAFEs, despite revelations that the state is more than $1bn better off than it realised. In October NSW auditor-general Peter Achterstraat’s audit uncovered 37 errors in the state’s financial accounts, suggesting a reported $340m deficit was really a $680m surplus.
Treasurer Mike Baird last week insisted the September education cuts, blamed on reduced GST revenue, had been justified. He told NSW parliament supplementary budget estimates hearing that the budget was still in deficit and, while he wouldn’t reveal the 37 errors, he said they had been dwarfed by forecasting problems and about $800m in advance payments from the commonwealth.
I wish we were in a much stronger position [but] the underlying position has not changed. We are not making up the financial challenges in any way. We have had to make a number of tough decisions that are not popular and that have an impact. I am not trying to dismiss the angst or the impact on [individuals] but I have to balance the overall position with the long-term good of the state.