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Shadow Treasurer says Finance Minister's figures on ALP election promises lack credibility; ALP ahead in latest polls.

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Tues day 17 April 2007

Shadow Treasurer says Finance Minister's figures on ALP election promises lack credibility; ALP ahead in latest polls


TONY EASTLEY: The Federal Opposition says the Fin ance Minister's figures have no credibility. 


I'm joined now by our reporter in Canberra, Gillian Bradford. Gillian, good morning. Is Labor concerned about these attacks on its economic credibility? 


GILIAN BRADFORD: Tony, I think Labor is growing more confident the Government's attacks won't get the same traction they once did and there a couple of reasons for that. 


They think it's now harder for the Government to package itself as the only credible economic manager because its come in for criticism over the past few years for some of its own generous spending.  


And the second reason is Labor thinks the Government is vulnerable on interest rates. The Government made the promise to keep interest rates low, there have been four interest rate rises since the last election and Labor thinks the Prime Minister has spent quite a bit of public goodwill. 


Labor's Treasury Spokesman, Wayne Swan, certainly thinks it's a bit rich of the Government to accuse Labor of going on a spending spree. 


WAYNE SWAN: Oh look, this just more of the slick and clever politics you'll get from people like Nick Minchin. I don't think the figures have got any credibility whatsoever.  


I mean, this comes from Nick Minchin who put out a $10 billion water plan without it even seeing the light of day in the Treasury and in the Finance Department. No credibility whatsoever. 


GILLIAN BRADFORD: So are you saying his figures are wrong? 


WAYNE SWAN: I haven't seen the detail of his figures, but there's no way in the world that his claims could be correct at that level. Look, Labor's going to run a very tight and disciplined fiscal policy.  


We're committed to keeping the budget in surplus on average over the cycle. But not only that, we're committed to making the spending cuts that are necessary to fund new spending proposals. 


GILLIAN BRADFORD: And, and that's what the Government is saying, tell us where you're going to make those spending cuts. Kevin Rudd for example says there's great savings to be made in the health budget, but exactly what programs are you going to cut? 


WAYNE SWAN: Well, we'll detail our priorities and how we'll fund them well before the election. We've already announced via Lindsay Tanner some very substantial cuts in spending, but you won't hear that from Nick Minchin. You see, it's a bit like their approach to industrial relations. They will sit on the real figures and hide them, because they're embarrassing to the Government. 


This Government has been out there spending like a drunken sailor, and it's planning to engage in another huge spending spree prior to the election.  


They got no credibility whatsoever, so what this is, is another desperate camouflage of what they're actually doing themselves, which is a plan to spend their way through to the next election, which will put upward pressure on inflation and upward pressure on interest rates. 


TONY EASTLEY: Labor's Wayne Swan speaking there.  


Gillian Bradford, Labor's again done very well in the latest Newspoll figures out in today's Australian newspaper. Was the polling done after the problems Kevin Rudd had with the Sunrise program and its Anzac day plans or before?  


GILLIAN BRADFORD: Well, this poll was taken from last Friday then over the weekend. And it was only on Friday that more details of Kevin Rudd's involvement in this whole Anzac Day dawn service row came to light, that it became clear his office had been warned veterans would take offence at moving the service forward just to fit in with a TV program. 


Now, if there is an impact, and there may not be, but if there is an impact that may not be seen until later polls. And Labor's Treasury Spokesman Wayne Swan admits the party could take a hit down the tracks. 


WAYNE SWAN: Oh look, there's certainly a chance that the Sunrise debacle is not reflected in this opinion poll. But we don't take any, any great encouragement from that fact. We know that these issues can be damaging. 


What I think the opinion polls reflect, however, is that Labor's concentration on the key issues, putting forward a positive alternative when it comes to combating dangerous climate change, ripping up the Government's extreme industrial relations laws and replacing them with a fair system, concentrating on an education revolution that'll lift productivity and create wealth and jobs.  


That's what the opinion polls reflect. But nevertheless, there's no doubt that the Sunrise stuff doesn't help. 


TONY EASTLEY: Labor's Treasury Spokesman Wayne Swan. And earlier I was speaking with Gillian Bradford.