Heat on Coalition to stump up its costings

Joe Hockey continues to duck putting a firm date on when he will release policy costings. AAP/Dan Himbrechts

The Coalition is now under pressure to get out its policy costings, following the release of the Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Outlook, which shows virtually no change in key figures since the government’s economic statement.

But shadow treasurer Joe Hockey said the opposition would go through the PEFO figures methodically and prudently and would not give any timing for the Coalition figures.

“You’ll get good time. Labor delivered their costings the day before the election in 2007; we’ll do better than the day before the the election.

"People will have a terrific opportunity to have a look at our numbers and the details in them”. He said the opposition was waiting for some costings from the Parliamentary Budget Office.

The only small change in the key indicators in PEFO, prepared by Treasury and Finance departments and independent of the government, is that the projected surplus in 2016-17 is $4.2 billion compared with $4 billion in the economic statement.

Treasurer Chris Bowen said there was no excuse for the opposition not to release all its policy costings, in compliance with the Charter of Budget Honesty. There was “nowhere to hide”.

He said that Liberal frontbencher George Brandis has said opposition policies were costed and ready to go. “If they are all there, ready to go, what’s the excuse for not releasing them?” He said inevitably there would be deep cuts to health and education.

Tony Abbott today confirmed that the opposition is ruling out any change to the GST under a Coalition government. “Let me be as categoric as I can, the GST won’t change, full stop, end of story. Let me repeat it - the GST won’t change full stop, end of story.”

Asked why he would bother keeping the GST in the planned review of taxation, Abbott said: “I don’t know what people are going to raise in the review. I just don’t. All sorts of things will be put forward by all sorts of people. I am telling you the GST won’t change. It is not going to change, full stop end of story.”

Pressed on whether he would like to take the opportunity to remove it from from the review, he said “Let’s not play these sorts of games” A “desperate Labor Party” was running a GST scare.

The “full stop” line is being repeated by all opposition MPs who appear publicly.

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