Abbott committing ‘fraud’ on costings: PM

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has accused the opposition of “fraud” after finding a $10 billion black hole in its proposed savings.


Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey revealed on Wednesday $31.6 billion of proposed savings, should the coalition win the September 7 election.

Mr Rudd said with less than 10 days before the election there were now “deep questions” about Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s truthfulness after an independent analysis of the figures revealed they don’t add up.

“It is quite clear that there is now a massive $10 billion hole in the $30 billion they are claiming,” Mr Rudd told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday.

“This is a $10 billion fraud on the Australian people.”

But Mr Abbott said the figures were produced by the parliamentary budget office (PBO) and validated by three distinguished public finance experts.

These are Geoff Carmody, co-founder of Access Economics, Len Scanlan, former Queensland auditor-general and Professor Peter Shergold, former secretary of the department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

“Let’s be very clear, Mr Rudd has got all of his own figures wrong, now he is getting our figures wrong too,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Sydney.

“When it comes to budget figures, when Mr Rudd’s lips are moving you know he is not telling the truth.”

The independent analysis says not proceeding with Labor’s low income superannuation contribution would save $1.7 billion over the next four years, not the $3.7 billion claimed by Mr Hockey.

According to the department of Finance, reducing the public service by 12,000 staff would save $2.8 billion, not the $5.2 billion claimed by the coalition.

In a statement from Treasurer Chris Bowen and Finance Minister Penny Wong it said the PBO estimated more than 20,000 jobs would need to go to deliver $5.2 billion.

They say the vast majority of the $5.1 billion claimed from discontinuing free permits in the jobs and competitiveness fund from scrapping the carbon tax does not impact the underlying cash balance.

Additionally, only $300 million of the $1.5 billion saving from discontinuing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation can be claimed as only this portion hits the bottom line.

Mr Bowen said the black hole was a “little bit of history repeating”, after the coalition’s costings in 2010 were too found to be inaccurate.

After the 2010 election Finance identified an $11 billion black hole in the opposition’s costings.

“The accountants who did the costings were fined $5000 for breach of professional standards,” Mr Bowen said.

“Here we go again. This time we’ve been able to identify the black hole before the election.”