Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey says Labor’s credibility has been blown after the government claimed there’s a $10 billion shortfall in the coalition’s proposed budget savings.
With just over a week to go before the election, Treasurer Chris Bowen was standing by his statement there was a “black hole” in the coalition’s $31.6 billion savings plan.
“We stand by every word,” Mr Bowen told the Seven Network on Friday.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Mr Bowen on Thursday accused the coalition of mounting a “$10 billion fraud” on the Australian people.
This was based on previous advice to the government from the departments of Treasury and Finance, and the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO).
Labor found fault with the savings the coalition expects from shedding 12,000 public servants, ending the low income superannuation contribution and from abolishing the carbon tax.
But in an extraordinary move, the heads of Treasury and Finance distanced their departments from Labor’s statements, saying they had never assessed any coalition policies.
“At no stage prior to the caretaker period has either department costed opposition policies,” Treasury’s Martin Parkinson and Finance’s David Tune said in a joint statement.
PBO head Phil Bowen also issued a statement, saying when a party chooses to publicly release a PBO costing prepared on a confidential basis “it is inappropriate to claim that the PBO has costed the policy of any other parliamentarian or political party”.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott told ABC radio Mr Rudd’s claims had blown up in his face.
Asked on Friday if Labor had lied about the black hole, Mr Bowen said: “Absolutely not”.
Mr Hockey should “come clean” and release the coalition’s full costings if he was so sure Labor was wrong, Mr Bowen added.
Mr Hockey said the government had been lying in the weeks and months before the September 7 election.
“What they’ve done is they’ve blown an absolute hole in Kevin Rudd and Chris Bowen’s credibility and honesty,” he told the Seven Network.
Opposition campaign spokesman Christopher Pyne said Mr Rudd’s re-election campaign was in “tatters”.
Former Liberal treasurer Peter Costello described it as an attempted knockout that had badly missed.
“Kevin Rudd’s gone for a big haymaker and hit the referee on the way through, and the referee has said foul,” Mr Costello told the Nine Network.
But Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese rejected this.
“The way this can be solved is for the opposition to have all of its policies costed. We have put dozens of policies into the Treasury and Finance in accordance with the Charter of Budget Honesty,” he told the Nine Network.
Mr Rudd is in Perth on Friday to announce a returned Labor government will have a new cities minister.
Mr Abbott is in Melbourne, spruiking his $100 million program to allow more people from Asian countries to study in Australia, and vice versa.