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Transcript of interview: Sky News: 23 August 2013: costings

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The Hon Joe Hockey MP Shadow Treasurer Coalition Campaign Spokesman

Friday 23 August 2013

Interview with Sky News 15:45 PM

Subjects: costings



Joe Hockey thanks very much for your time today. we have seen Bank of America Merrill Lynch Chief Economist Saul Eslake come out and predict a $30 billion black hole in the Coalition's budget, what do you say to that?


Well the starting point is Labor was claiming a $70 billion black hole and now that Saul Eslake is coming out he's claiming a $30billion black hole, so I suppose by the time we get to the election there won't be any black hole. In fact there'll be money left over...that's the thing, Labor is just totally inconsistent, they're just seizing on anything and that's what they'll do, they're desperate and they're hysterical.


But are you worried that this adds to the concern the anxiety about black holes within any Coalition budget?


Well look, Labor will clutch onto anything. Saul Eslake has his numbers wrong, for example his numbers in relation to our proposal to reduce the humanitarian refugee intake from 20,000 to 13,750 he costs as a saving of just around $450million, but even Chris Bowen the Treasurer said it's $1.3billion. And why? Because that's the figure he used to justify the increase. So frankly our numbers have been checked by the Parliamentary Budget Office, our numbers will be right, and we'll just go from there


Why not put an end to all this speculation by simply releasing your costings?


And when we get all the information from the Parliamentary Budget Office, some of which we are still waiting on, we will release our full costings. There's no issue about that, but if the whole campaign's going to be spent arguing about costings, I think people are going to be pretty deflated if they think there is some sort of black hole because there is none in our numbers, unlike Labor which for six years has got every single number wrong and, unlike Labor which hasn't released any of its costings to date.


But isn't it quite hard to build a hard economic case without having actually hard numbers to be able to point to?


We're not leaving them for the last minute for the election. We haven't announced all our policies, we had a proper process for developing our election policies, a proper costings process for developing the costings, we've had a proper verification process including going to the Parliamentary Budget Office, and verification by three eminent Australians who actually have been directly involved in costings processes in Government. So we've gone to more extreme lengths than anyone, our numbers will be and are more robust than anything, anything, Labor has presented for six years, and let me tell ya, I'm not going to cop any lecture from Labor about integrity in numbers. They've got every number wrong for six years, and they've got absolutely no credibility on their own numbers, let alone passing opinion on ours.


We’ve seen the Government out wooing small business voters. It has been an area traditionally that lent towards the Liberals, a concern?


Look Labor can offer whatever it wants. The Assistant Treasurer announced policy today that he said it was too small to quantify, too small to quantify. Well how does he know if he can't quantify how small it is? It's bizarre costings process from Labor. We had the Prime Minister go to the Northern Territory and announce a tax policy without any numbers at three different levels for two jurisdictions, two different jurisdictions, now that's not the way to formulate

policy, it's not the way to cost policy, and small business can see through that. You'll probably remember that the Labor Party offered Australian tax payers a deal that they could claim the first $500 on their tax return without having to lodge a tax return. They offered that at an election and then they pulled it after the election, so Kevin Rudd's promise to small business today certainly isn't worth the paper it's written on. It's certainly not worth the oxygen that it consumed to announce.


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