Delivering the keynote address at CEDA Victoria’s Economic and Political Overview (EPO) event, following the release of CEDA’s annual EPO publication, Mr Pallas said the Victorian Government is “unashamedly pro business” for one simple reason – jobs.
“We’ve demonstrated that when government works with business and not against it – Victorians are the beneficiaries,” Mr Pallas said.
“We know that ultimately it is the private sector that is the main generator of jobs in this state, and indeed the country.”
The Treasurer noted 316,000 jobs had been created in Victoria since the Government was elected, including 50,000 jobs in regional Victoria.
He attributed much of the state’s strong jobs growth to the Government’s multi-billion-dollar investment in infrastructure projects, including Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) for the Outer Suburban Arterial Roads Program, the Metro Tunnel, the High Capacity Metro Trains Project and new schools and hospitals.
“The economic value of PPPs is that they engage private sector expertise while also freeing up the state’s capital to invest in other priorities. Make no mistake, what we’ll be left with are enhanced public assets,” Mr Pallas said.
“PPPs also make it much easier for a Government – and particularly a Treasurer – to deliver an ambitious infrastructure agenda.”
Mr Pallas took aim at the Federal Government for its “unfair and punitive” treatment of Victoria in allocating Federal infrastructure dollars.
“(The Prime Minister’s) home state of New South Wales receives 45 per cent of federal infrastructure investment, while Victoria receives less than 10 per cent,” he said.
“Now the Prime Minister is considering a change to GST allocations which could see one billion dollars ripped away from our schools, hospitals and police.”
He suggested the Commonwealth should leave the states to manage schools, hospitals and transport.
“After all, it’s state governments that are actually in the business of building and managing schools, hospitals and transport systems. It’s state governments that work in partnership with business on the delivery of infrastructure and services,” he said.
“Instead of making it easier for state governments to do this, the Federal Government makes it harder by failing to deliver on their commitments.”
Ahead of the Victorian election in November this year, the Treasurer also took a swing at the State Opposition, labelling the Liberals a risk to Victoria’s economy.
“In CEDA’s 2018 Economic and Political Overview, it flags a range of risks to the Australian economy – from Brexit, to a slowdown in China, to household debt levels,” he said.
“Well, if history is any guide the biggest risk to the Victorian economy – is the Victorian Liberal Party.
“The Opposition has already flagged a Commission of Audit inquiry which only means one thing – justification for more cuts.”
Also speaking at the event, author of the Economic Overview, Commonwealth Bank of Australia Chief Economist and Managing Director, Economics, Michael Blythe, presented an overview of the domestic and global economy in 2017 and forecasts for the year ahead.
Mr Blythe said overall economic forecasts for 2017 had been right and the Australian economy is in good shape at the start of 2018. However, there were some risks to the continued growth of the economy including, on the domestic front, record household debt and stagnant wages growth and global geopolitical events.