South Australia’s L-Plate Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis is clearly struggling to cope with the complexity of his new Treasury responsibilities.
“At a time when South Australia faces one of its most important budgets ever, a litany of bungles, blunders and misstatements by Tom Koutsantonis gives South Australians no confidence at all in his ability to handle the job,” said Shadow Treasurer Rob Lucas.
“This week’s revelation of his ham-fisted bully boy attempt to do a backroom deal with key Independent John Darley over the car park tax highlights the problems he has in handling a difficult budget in a mature fashion.
“Mr Koutsantonis’s actions have impressed no-one and only seem to make the Weatherill Government’s task even harder to achieve.”
Sadly for South Australians, Mr Koutsantonis’s first three months as Treasurer have been littered with a series of bungles, blunders and misstatements. For example:
• Mr Koutsantonis made himself a laughing stock in the national media after his first Treasurer’s conference on 27 March when he exposed his ignorance on how the GST is distributed amongst the states:
“The GST is allocated on the basis of a per capita arrangement.”
In fact, South Australia has always opposed ‘per capita’ distribution and Mr Koutsantonis was outlining the big eastern states’ preference!
• On 31 March, Mr Koutsantonis couldn’t explain the key budget concept of ‘net financial liabilities’ to ABC radio until prompted by a staff member.
• On May 14, Mr Koutsantonis mistakenly thought a $1.4 billion increase in GST in the Federal Budget was a national figure and not a South Australian figure. He then added to his problem by aggressively accusing the Leader of the Opposition of not being able to read a Budget document.
• On 31 May, Mr Koutsantonis told 5AA that South Australia’s payroll tax threshold for small businesses was ‘one of the best in the country’ when in fact it is one of the worst.
“Whilst these gaffes are embarrassing for Mr Koutsantonis, they are even more embarrassing for South Australian taxpayers,” said Mr Lucas.
“At this critical time for South Australia’s economic future, South Australians will be rightly alarmed that the person in charge of the state’s finances is clearly struggling to cope with the job.”