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Transcript of interview with Lyndal Curtis: ABC AM: 10 August 2010: Coalition costing errors; Charter of Budget Honesty.

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Transcript: Chris Bowen, Interview, ABC AM

Chris Bowen posted Tuesday, 10 August 2010


Subjects: Coalition costing errors; Charter of Budget Honesty.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Chris Bowen, you say there are holes in the Coalition costing figures, but the Coalition says it's found a $3 billion hole in your figure too.

CHRIS BOWEN: Well in the middle of the night last night the Opposition has issued a bizarre press release riddled with errors about Labor's costings and it just shows a lack of economic judgement that they could let such a document go out.

CURTIS: But the Opposition, Andrew Robb, has said that it's not clear whether those figures are included in the budget, whether the programs are included in the budget. Are you making it clear enough?

BOWEN: Well let's go through some of the errors in his document and we will deal with that.

Firstly, they've claimed with one of our spending proposals twice on the same page.

Secondly, they've taken one spending proposal which costed $1.5 million at $15 million; they've forgotten a decimal point.

And then more than half, more than 211, sorry, half of the 211 items listed are already in the budget. Now, when we make those spending announcements we make it clear whether it's already been accounted for in the budget.

And so either Mr Robb is being very sloppy or he's being very misleading because he simply hasn't done his homework.

CURTIS: Is it a problem though for an Opposition when a Government can commit to programs in a budget and then save the announcements as sweeteners for election time?

BOWEN: Well we are abiding by the same fiscal rules that the Liberal Party put in place when they were in office.

CURTIS: Are those fiscal rules good enough?

BOWEN: Well look, governments make decisions on a regular basis and then at an appropriate time announce those decisions.

Now we've made it very clear when we've announced our decisions whether this was an election commitment which was funded over the forward estimates or a decision that was taken in a budget context and is already accounted for in the budget.

And if Mr Robb can't work out the difference then he's not fit to be the finance minister of Australia.

CURTIS: You say in the figures you've put out on your policies and the savings you have made that there is still a $450 million hole in your figures. How are you going to fill that hole?

BOWEN: Well we've made it clear, Lyndal. We issue an almost daily press release which indicates where our savings are coming from and we've made it clear over the election campaign that by the end of the election campaign all our commitments will be paid for over the forward estimates.

You can't get more transparent than what we have done. Almost daily we issue a press release with the cost of our commitments and the result of our savings measures. And from to time the savings measures have been greater than the spending commitments and at other times they've been less, but by the end of the election cycle, the election campaign, they will be the same.

CURTIS: And will people know in time for polling day whether you are cutting more programs or raising more fees, as you did with the passport fees? Will people know in time for them to make a considered judgement about whether they think you've done the right thing?

BOWEN: Yes, Yes, all our spending and savings commitments will be out before polling day.

And, look, we have had to make some tough decisions. We've indexed the passport fees, you're quite right. That's something which we think is appropriate, that they do rise with inflation.

But look we've been up front and open about it. We've issued this release on an almost daily basis outlining the state of our books, the state of our election commitments and the Opposition haven't done anything approaching that.

Tags: Bowen, budget, Coalition, costing, costings