BEAUTIFUL ONE DAY
BROKE THE NEXT
Queensland’s Public Finances since Sir Joh and Sir Leo
Paperback, 310 Pages
Release Date: December 2018
“In the three decades since Sir Leo Hielscher retired as Under Treasurer, Queensland went from being the exemplar of sound public finance in Australia, to having the highest level of public debt among the states and a downgraded credit rating.”
Gene Tunny is a Brisbane-based economist and former Australian Treasury official. During the late 2000s financial crisis, while working in the Treasury Building in Canberra, he was profoundly disturbed when he witnessed visiting Queensland Treasury officials pleading for Australian government intervention to rescue the Queensland state government from its fiscal troubles. This prompted him to investigate how Queensland got itself into such a fiscal mess. This book, Beautiful One Day, Broke the Next, is his attempt to tell that story. It is based on a considerable amount of research and analysis of state budgets since the late 1980s, as well as interviews with important players, including former state Treasurers and Under Treasurers.
“Under the Bligh government, partly due to decisions made during the Beattie government, Queensland’s state debt grew to tens of billions of dollars more than was desirable…and the prized AAA credit rating was lost. State debt, currently at around $70 billion, remains on a path to over $80 billion…”
This is a timely book. There are many lessons to be learned from studying the deterioration in Queensland’s fiscal position over the last forty years. Gene Tunny has undertaken a major research project. It is not easy to compare fiscal performance over time as reporting and accounting standards continually change, but he has done this most expertly. It is fair and accurate, it is well written, and it is easy to read considering the intrinsic ennui of the subject.
-- Hon Keith DeLacy AM, Treasurer of Queensland from 1989 to 1996
This is an important book as it chronicles the fiscal deterioration of Queensland’s public finances, from a position of unquestioned strength to one of disturbing weakness. It provides some unique insights into public administration in Queensland stretching back over almost 40 years. There are some clear messages in this book as to why we should be concerned about Queensland’s mounting debt burden – messages that we ignore at the peril of future generations who face the prospect of a lower standard of living as a result of the fiscal profligacy of recent times.
-- Mark Gray, Under Treasurer of Queensland from 2013 to 2015
When it comes to crunching the state's finance numbers the go to person is easily Gene Tunny. He has that rare blend of considerable insight gained through years of experience coupled with the ability to tell an interesting, enjoyable and useful story detached from any political bias.
-- Nick Behrens, Director, Queensland Economic Advocacy Solutions