The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Wayne Swan

Wayne Swan

Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer

3 December 2007 - 27 June 2013

12 September 2011

NO.110

Hockey Says 'Trust Me' on $70 Billion Black Hole

The Shadow Treasurer has today declared he will keep the Australian people in the dark about how the Coalition will get out of its disastrous $70 billion budget black hole.

The House of Representatives is today debating a bill to set up the Parliamentary Budget Office as recommended by a Joint Select Committee that the Coalition signed up to.

However, rather than supporting the recommended model, Joe Hockey has sought to trash this important new institution with his own watered-down version that would hide election costings from public scrutiny.

Mr Hockey told parliament this morning that if the Government's bill is passed

"the Coalition will not submit its policy costings to either the Treasury or the PBO prior to the election. We will ask the Australian people to form a view on our policies as they stand."

This is a 'trust me' policy from an Opposition that got 9 in every 10 dollars in net savings wrong at the last election.

The Coalition tried to pull an $11 billion costings con job at the last election, and it looks to be preparing to go one better at the next election.

Given his abysmal record culminating in his $70 billion budget black hole, it's not surprising Mr Hockey is doing everything he can to run away from proper scrutiny and accountability.

This comes after Mr Hockey last week contradicted himself by trying to deny the $70 billion black hole that he himself expressly raised on the Sunrise program and that Shadow Finance Minister Andrew Robb has since confirmed on ABC Radio.

The Government's bill provides the Coalition with an advantage that no other Opposition has had before when it comes to support for policy costings. They can access confidential policy costings from the independent PBO outside of general election periods, and will have access to either the PBO or Treasury and Finance departments to cost policies transparently during election periods.

If the Coalition is serious about budget accountability and transparency, it will submit every one of its polices to the PBO once it's up and running so that the Australian people are never again subjected to the kind of budget dishonesty we saw at the last election.

CANBERRA
12 September 2011