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'Sustainability' is Costello-code for broken promises.

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Wayne Swan MP Federal Labor Shadow Treasurer


On television this morning Peter Costello claimed the theme of his upcoming budget would be ‘sustainability’.

Peter Costello has the nerve of a burglar, harping on about sustainability after the fiscal irresponsibility he’s overseen in the last 12 months.

We know from the Treasurer’s track record that sustainability is merely Costello-code for broken promises and junked election commitments.

The great guessing game for the upcoming Budget is: which other election commitments will the Treasurer break in the name of ‘sustainability’?

This is the man who sat on his hands while John Howard sprayed $66 billion around in an election campaign.

He knew full well that this level of spending was unsustainable but he said or did nothing at the time.

The Medicare Safety Net scandal perfectly illustrates the Treasurer’s approach to ‘sustainable’ fiscal policy: promise it during an election campaign, deny any plans to scale it back, and then sneakily break that promise in the first post-election budget.

He knew the cost of the Safety Net had blown out because the Finance and Treasury Departments told him so on 27 September at the latest.

But he still flatly denied it at a doorstop interview in Perth on 29 September 2004, only two days after costings documents showed the extent of the blow-out:

JOURNALIST: “Do you think there is there any substance to Labor’s claims today that Treasury figures show that the Medicare Safety Net will blow out…?”


Peter Costello’s behaviour shows he is economically irresponsible and politically sneaky.

Sunday 24 April 2005 Contact Jim Chalmers 0417 141 676