Radio star Neil Mitchell has blasted Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews ahead of the release of the state budget, accusing him of spreading three key “cons”.
The 2023-24 State Budget will be delivered later on Tuesday, and Mr Andrews has made no secret of the tough economic conditions facing the government, variously describing the budget as “tough”, “difficult”, “challenging” and even “painful”.
The budget will include details of the state’s massive debt, which Mr Andrews has publicly attributed to a range of external factors, including the Covid pandemic and the Reserve Bank’s successive interest rate hikes.
However, the 3AW host has come out swinging, claiming Victorians are being sold three major “cons” about the budget.
3AW broadcaster Neil Mitchell has hot out at Daniel Andrews ahead of the budget’s release.
“Don’t cop this nonsense about the Covid debt that you’re going to hear – the debt is $165 billion, or will be soon,” he said.
“Repayments are about, what, $8 or $9 billion a year. It’s not all Covid, they’re using Covid to cover other cost blowouts.
“Covid’s about a fifth of the debt, that’s con number one.”
Mitchell also urged Victorians to be wary of Mr Andrews’ RBA claims.
“Con number two is that the Reserve Bank is somehow to blame because Dan thought interest rates would stay down when he borrowed the money,” he said.
“That’s nonsense, even I said they would go up one day, his treasury officials must have told him the same.
“That’s con number two, it’s not Philip Lowe’s fault.”
Finally, Mitchell insisted the “debt cliff” didn’t come out of the blue.
“Con number three – this was inevitable and obvious before the state election, I said often on air and in a column for The Age, the debt cliff was coming, cuts and tax rises would always be needed, but the government dodged it, and was re-elected,” he said.
Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews has variously describing the budget as ‘tough’, ‘challenging’ and even ‘painful’. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Valeriu Campan
Earlier this month, Mr Andrews defended his state’s borrowings as a necessary move in a post-Covid world.
“The governor of the Reserve Bank, head of the federal treasury and every credible economist around the world said, ‘look, you need to use your budget and balance sheet to protect household budgets and business balance sheets’. So we had to go and borrow,” Mr Andrews said in early May.
“If you hadn’t done that then we literally would have made the worst of times so much worse again. That would not have been an answer.”
But one shining light for Victorians was a projected operating surplus of $650 million by 2025-26.
Mr Andrews said this predicted figure was part of the government’s plan to “stabilise” those borrowings.
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“Bringing stability and, in some ways this is the most important point, a surplus. $650 million in the 2025-26 year,” he said.
“You’re not only in a better position to start servicing the borrowings you had to make, but also to start paying that down.”