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Treasurer Mike Baird's $1 billion blue A BILLION dollar stuff-up has given the state government's financial credentials a bloody nose but also dragged its budget back into the black. Treasurer Mike Baird's first budget was revealed to have been littered with accounting and data entry errors that meant his deficit of $337 million should in fact be a surplus of $680 million. In a scathing assessment of how the government misplaced $1 billion, Auditor-General Peter Achterstraat said the budget result had "bounced around a bit like a pinball machine". "NSW is a billion-dollar business, it is not a school tuckshop," he said. "A $1 million error is unfortunate, a $10 million error is undesirable but a $100 million error is totally unacceptable. "If parliament and Treasury is to make important reform decisions they need timely, accurate financial advice. We need better financial processes, better financial systems and, in many cases, better qualified staff to prepare accounts. Recommended Coverage Barry's government taking a big hit» THE economic credibility of the O'Farrell government has just taken an enormous hit. Heads must roll for $1 billion bungle» THANKS to a combination of incompetence and carelessness, the state government managed to make $1 billion disappear. But how? .. "Many issues related to spreadsheet errors, many related to valuation errors and some were data entry errors and that's the frustrating thing, these errors should be put through well and truly before financial accounts come to me." Mr Achterstraat compared the financial blunder to a cricket match where "you've got five overs to go and you think you've only got to get X number of runs and all of a sudden you're told you've got to get five times that". All up there were 37 errors worth more than $20 million and two errors worth more than $1 billion, which involved officials undervaluing the value of the state archives and the Snowy Hydro scheme's worth to government. The Auditor-General's office confirmed a similar error occurred in 2009-10 when Labor was $800 million out with its surplus. But the Coalition had still made more errors than Labor in its last two budgets. Opposition Leader John Robertson said the auditor's findings showed that the $4.8 billion in cuts from education and health were "unjustified". "Mike Baird, while he continues to argue this line (of an underlying deficit) shows how incompetent he is," he said.

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