The Turnbull government borrowed another $900 million today which means that gross government debt hit a fresh record high of $458.6 billion. It seems a long time ago that the Coalition threatened to block legislation to raise the debt ceiling to what now looks like a puny $300 billion. That was May 2012.
According to the Australian Office of Financial Management, the current government debt level is some $185.5 billion above the level inherited by the Coalition when it won the September 2013 election on a platform to return the budget to surplus and pay off Labor’s debt.
On any objective measure, the Coalition has failed dismally in this KPI. And the AOFM suggests there is still around $40 billion to be borrowed between now and the end on the financial year on 30 June 2017.
The Coalition knew they were never going to meet their debt and deficit commitment, shamelessly abolishing the debt ceiling legislation with the support of the Greens (which says a lot) within a few weeks of winning the election.
When the government debt ceiling was raised to $300 billion in May 2012, Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey said: “The [Labor] government is being deceitful. They have never seen a credit card they never wanted to use. We have real concerns over what they intend to use this for.”
Now days and without any legislation on the debt ceiling, the government just borrows, week in, week out, rarely having indicate how much extra borrowing is needed or indeed, what the money is being used for, as Mr Hockey once wished for.
Strange days indeed.