Leading independent economist Saul Eslake has warned of the dangers of the Coalition government using 'off budget' investments to obscure a tripling of the federal government's operating expenses.
Echoing Australian Conservatives founder and leader, senator Cory Bernardi's criticisms of the last - and current budget (see the video below) - Mr Eslake has told the Australian Financial Review newspaper that there is a concerning growth in fiscally questionable 'financial asset investments'. These are projects designed like the ill-fated NBNCo, such as the Western Sydney Airport, the Melbourne-to-Brisbane Inland Rail Project, Snowy 2.0 and - potentially - the passenger rail link from Melbourne's CBD to the Melbourne Airport.
The Financial Review writes that Mr Eslake "warns the Turnbull government is 'driving a truck' through the precedent established by former Labor Communications minister Stephen Conroy's decision to fund the NBN 'off budget'."
In his 2017 Budget Reply speech, Senator Bernardi attacked these 'innovative' accounting techniques:
To read Jacob Greber's full story in the Australian Financial Review, click here.
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