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Labor happy to promise the world for it knows the end is nigh



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Labor happy to promise the world for it knows the end is nigh

Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney by Joe Hockey 21 Aug 2012

General News - page 13 - 684 words

Opinion Piece - Sydney Morning Herald Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Page 1 of 3 Opinion Piece - Sydney Morning Herald | Media | The Hon. Joe Hockey MP

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Who could ever deny our children the best education possible? It is of critical importance and Australia can offer no

greater commitment to ensure the prosperity of the nation and its next generation.

But in this week's blizzard of words over the future of the Gonski report into education funding, the government is

pulling a cruel hoax on Australia.

The government does not have the $26 billion required over a forward estimates period to cover its airy promises of

better teachers and no school being left worse off in real terms.

All we have is a government addicted to making big announcements and locking in spending like there is no tomorrow,

when in reality, all it is offering is false hope.

Recent history in Britain is a prime example of such false hope. The former Labour government led by Gordon Brown

left David Cameron's government a crushing legacy of unfunded commitments with a series of unachievable promises.

Labor here are following the lead from their cousins on the other side of the world. Take, for instance, the National

Disability Insurance Scheme, which the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, promised Labor would deliver. What Gillard and

Labor have actually done is announce four NDIS trial sites. This is a long way short of committing the $8 billion that

will be required to adequately service the NDIS every year.

If the government has really launched the NDIS, as it claims to have done, then the cost is not accounted for in its

budget. Labor's only financial commitment is $1 billion for trial sites.

The best we get from the Prime Minister is an admission the government will have to make "substantial savings" to

achieve her outcomes.

It was hard not to laugh when she said on Sunday "you've got to be prudent with every dollar, and we are". This is a

Labor government that has made waste and mismanagement an artform, such as in the failed border protection policy

that has incurred a $4.7 billion blowout or the $50 billion national broadband network that is a massive drain on the

nation's resources.

The truth is that Labor will have no choice but to raise taxes to pay for its gargantuan promises. The Labor senator Doug

Cameron said as much a fortnight ago when he said it was ''inconceivable that this amount of government expenditure on

building a good society could be funded from existing revenue".

In effect, the Treasury Secretary, Martin Parkinson, and now his predecessor Ken Henry are in agreement; Labor cannot

continue checking expenditure against the nation's credit card. In the end, someone has to pay the bill.

With an election not due for possibly 15 months, the Coalition will not be making promises it cannot keep.

If a Coalition government is elected we have pledged, based on present information, a budget surplus in our first year

and each year after that.

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Unlike Labor, the Coalition is not hiding from funding its promises. Savings measures such as a reduction in the number

of public servants have already been announced, with many areas of policy already costed and ready to deliver at the

appropriate time. And if we are elected, a commission of audit into government finances will immediately begin a top-to

-bottom review of government administration, identifying areas for immediate cuts to put an end to government waste

and mismanagement.

Labor wants us to believe it will deliver a budget surplus in 2012-13 - a wafer thin $1.5 billion or just 0.1 per cent of

gross domestic product. Contrast that with their record; just a year ago they forecast a $23 billion deficit for the 2011-12

financial year, which then turned out to be $44 billion. Four programs alone - schools funding, the NDIS, border

protection and new submarines for the Australian navy - account for almost $75 billion in unfunded government

promises.

Much rests on what will be revealed in the mid-year economic fiscal outlook due in November, and more importantly

the budget in May.

Labor has introduced or increased 26 taxes since it came to power - including a carbon tax that was never supposed to

happen.

Now the public has to suffer the indignity of a government providing nothing but false hope, for genuinely needed

government programmes that have been promised but remain unfunded.

Joe Hockey is the shadow treasurer.

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