Chris Bowen
Chris Bowen Inga Williams

Budget figures confirm $30.1b deficit

UPDATE: NEITHER of the major parties have the policies to repair the underlying problems with the federal budget, a University of Melbourne academic says.

The comments from Associate Professor for Economic Mark Crosby came as Treasury released its final budget figures before the election.

It revealed no surprises after Treasurer Chris Bowen released an economic update two weeks ago, but did give Labor a chance to put more pressure on the Coalition to release its election policy costings.

Mr Bowen said there were no longer any excuses for Opposition Leader Tony Abbott not to release the official costs of the Coalition's policies.

"There's nowhere to hide, simply release your costings (Mr Abbott) and how you intend to pay for your policies," Mr Bowen said.

But Mr Abbott said he would defy any calls to be pushed into releasing the details of what his policies would cost taxpayers.

The clearest indication yet of when the costings would be released came from Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey, who said only the Coalition would "do better than the day before the election".

But Assoc Prof Crosby said both parties were using an ad hoc approach to taxation for major policies and the current approach "only complicates the system".

He said both major parties were using additional levies or one-off measures to pay for everything from paid parental schemes to Disability Care Australia, and such an approach was unsustainable.

"The longer term issue is the budget is probably not sustainable - either side will have to deal with weaker revenue and the only option is whether to do that by cutting expenditure or raising taxes," Assoc Prof Crosby said.

However, Assoc Prof Crosby said largely the Treasury outlook was consistent with analyst forecasts for the wider economy, and "nothing too much has changed".

 

PEFO

  • Jobless rate to hit 6.25% for first time in a decade in June next year.
  • Deficit confirmed at $30.1b in 2013-14.
  • Surplus forecast $4.2b in 2016-17.

 

EARLIER: The official budget figures from Treasury have confirmed a $30.1 billion deficit in 2013-14, as released by Treasurer Chris Bowen a fortnight ago.

While the unsurprising data showed some improvement to the government's bottom line, it confirmed the structural deficit awaits whichever party wins at the polls.

The data also confirms decisions by the government's razor gang taken since the release of the May budget has created savings worth $6.4 billion.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was on the front foot this morning in a move to discredit the Opposition's economic credentials, saying Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was scared to release the Coalition's policy costings.

He said the Coalition did not want to come clean with the Australian people "because they know what the reaction" of the people would be, reiterating Labor's line on "cuts to the bone".

However, Mr Abbott on Monday said the Coalition was still working on releasing costings, and the details would be released in good time before the election.

While some of the official Treasury figures show a slight positive move, the estimates have largely confirmed a $4 billion surplus is forecast in 2016-17 in line with the current government's policies.



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