Tuesday, August 06, 2013

False. The Coalition would need to make $70 billion of cuts

"The coalition, to return the federal budget to as a good a position as the government’s, at minimum, would have to make $70 billion worth of cuts."

Penny Wong, finance minister, August 3 press conference

Labor’s finance spokesman Penny Wong says the Coalition would have to cut the budget by $70 billion to pay for its election promises so far. Kevin Rudd used the same number announcing the poll on Sunday.

Labor backs it up with an eight-page document that goes line by line through what it says are the 19 Coalition promises announced so far. But the biggest ($19.7 billion) isn’t a promise at all. Labor calls it "2010 savings no longer available to offset policies". In its words: "To fund policies announced in the 2010 election the opposition put forward a number of savings. However, many of these savings are no longer available."

Some of those savings are no longer available because the timeframe has passed, others because they were promises to abolish programs that Labor has since abandoned.

Does it stack up?

It is hard to see why a historical footnote about costings in a previous election should be regarded as a cost to be added to a claimed $50 billion of costs for policies the opposition is actually proposing this time.

Joe Hockey says its "double counting".

Wong’s office defends including the figure by saying Hockey has regularly referred to the old savings target. But he isn’t referring to it now. In recent days he has merely promised to deliver a better bottom line than Labor.

Which means the actual cost of coalition policies would be nearer to $50 billion to $70 billion, and that’s if Labor’s other costings are accurate.

Not all of them are.

Labor has costed Tony Abbott’s promise to lose 12,000 public servants through natural attrition over next two years. It says it’ll only save $2.8 billion. Joe Hockey’s office has shared with Politifact a costing from the independent Parliamentary Budget Office that finds the saving is more like $4.8 billion.

And some of Labor’s estimates are guesses. The Coalition hasn’t yet released its Dams and Water Management policy. Labor says it will cost $2 billion.


The Coalition will need to find a lot of money to pay for its promises so far. Abolishing the carbon price is just one of them. But Politifact finds Labor’s claim it would need to find $70 billion, based on what we know so far, “false”.

In Politifact and The Sydney Morning Herald

Wong's costing:

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