Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas said today that Treasury officers had confirmed there had been a $10m error in last year’s budget paper estimates of the cost of providing pensioner concessions for Council rates.
Evidence from the Local Government Association to the Property Taxation Select Committee last week indicated Treasury officers had told the LGA that there had been an error of about $10m in previous budgets of the costs of providing pensioner concessions on Council rates.
Mr Lucas said this year’s budget papers (BP 3, pg 4.17) show that $29.4m was spent on ‘Council rate concessions for pensioners, self funded retirees etc in 2005/06. These concessions provide up to $190 per year to help pay for council rates.
“However last year’s budget papers show that $39.9m was estimated to be spent which was similar to the amount supposedly spent on council rate concessions in the previous 2 years,” he said.
Treasury explained they were evidently confident of the latest estimate because it was now based on actual payments but gave no explanation as to why previous budget papers didn’t include accurate information.
“This $10m error is an unexpected windfall for Treasury as it would have been included in all the budget forward estimates included in last year’s budget papers.
“This means the Rann Government could have helped pensioners by increasing the concession by up to about $50 per year without having any impact on the budget result.
“The LGA and other community organizations have lobbied the government for many years to provide extra relief to pensioners from ever increasing council rates due to rising property values.
“Mr. Foley must now explain how this $10m error occurred, why it took so long to be picked up and why the government didn’t take the opportunity to provide long suffering pensioners with some much deserved extra relief.”