It’s hard to overstate just how badly the Coalition had handled the costings issue. Forget about the theatre about the Charter for Budget Honesty, a piece of legislation that has rightly been torn up and discarded by both parties.
Having having a “mid-tier” accounting firm (as one Financial journalist generously described it) sign off on the costings.
Ignoring the smearing of that firm by some who suggest that having an old link to a Liberal Party somehow means they can’t, or won’t, add up correctly.
But at every stage the Liberals have acted like they have something to hide on Budget savings, and Tony Abbott has run a mile from the issue. He handballed it to Joe Hockey in May, and Hockey handballed it to Robb, who effortlessly eclipses Hockey every time the two are in the same room, has had the issue ever since. Yesterday, in a much-delayed press conference that barely allowed the commercial networks time to put together coverage.
The final package was unveiled and, not to put too fine a point on it, it was rubbish.
Swapping risk for marginal political gain: for the sake of boasting now that it will have a slightly higher surplus in the future, the Coalition increases the risk of a budget blow-out once it is in government. That’s worth over $2.5b.
The Coalition proposes a significant expansion of the Public Service to undertake its own programs, including hundreds of extra Customs, hospital board and Crime Commission staff, a new “Broadband Commission”, a new Ombudsman, new ministerial committees that need to be serviced — a conservative calculation is that the Coalition will need to immediately employ an extra 1000 public servants to implement its programs.
These are not costed at all, their estimates of surpluses and getting a balanced budget are whimsical, nothing but something expelled from the rear of a male animal which is sometimes referred to as bull.