Peter Martin's column above contains these useful figures:
Two years beforehand in 2010-11, Treasury forecast revenue equal to 24.1 per centSmall government ideologues, who have been entertaining themselves at some "We Hate Tax" love in this weekend*, like to concentrate on absolute figures for spending and revenue rather than "relative to GDP" figures. Unless someone cares to correct me, I take it that this is done as spin to try to portray spending as being out of control by ignoring factors that indicate why government spending would have some "natural" growth over the years.
of gross domestic product by 2012-13. It was a low forecast by the standards of the previous Howard government. But what the Gillard government got was 23.1 per cent of GDP, billions of dollars less.
By a staggering coincidence, government spending that year amounted to exactly 24.1 per cent of GDP, precisely the same figure as the revenue it had expected to get.
If revenue had rolled in as expected, the past financial year’s budget wouldn’t be in deficit in all. Wayne Swan would be crowing about his success in eliminating the deficit on time, as promised.
No one is too sure where the revenue has gone. It’s a murder mystery with multiple suspects.
With respect to looking at it compared to GDP, I see that even last week's National Commission of Audit report - with as fine a Right wing pedigree as one could expect when appointed by a Coalition government - contains the graphs which put in clear perspective the "it's all Labor's overspending" line.
First: Chart 4.1 in the report - Commonwealth spending as a share of GDP
Second: Chart 4.2 - Commonwealth taxes as a share of GDP
Labor governments that spend and tax like there is no tomorrow? Hardly.
* I note a guest speaker was notorious climate change denying Patrick Michaels - anti tax libertarians (with few exceptions) must attack climate change as not really being a problem because the most sensible policy to address is a tax. Eek - a tax!