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More proof ... if any is needed ... of the wisdom of Tasmanian Times commentator John Lawrence Now, it seems, Peter Gutwein is learning to sing from the Lawrence hymn sheet ...

Gutwein hits using super to pay bills
BY LORETTA JOHNSTON
11 Apr 2011

THE state government’s practice of using funds set aside for public servants’ superannuation to pay its bills is hiding the true level of state debt, opposition treasury spokesman Peter Gutwein has warned.

But the government says there is nothing sneaky about its financial statements and that the opposition had again shown a complete lack of understanding of public finance.

“Any suggestion that reported debt levels are incorrect or that the RBF is somehow being drained is completely false,” a government spokesman said yesterday.

“The government’s financial statements are audited by the Auditor- General and prepared in accordance with Australian accounting standards.”

Premier Lara Giddings last week confirmed the government was drawing on super funds to pay budget bills.

“That is just a normal practice of governments and it has been and it will continue to be into the future,” she told ABC Radio on Friday.

“What you need to ensure is that when people retire you can pay out their retirement benefits, and we can do that and will continue to do that.”

Mr Gutwein said the practice meant Tasmania was facing a deepening budget crisis.

“By using some technical accounting sleight of hand, the government has pretended it is paying off debt and saving for the future, but nothing could be further from the truth,” he said.

“The fact is, debt is actually going up and has been going up for years; the government has simply taken money out of superannuation funds and used it to temporarily offset the growing debt.

“Spending money out of superannuation funds and writing an `IOU’ to mask a growing debt problem is not good financial management, in fact it’s a recipe for financial disaster.”

Loretta Johnston’s Examiner story HERE