The penny's dropped on Coalition savings

The ALP's campaign on the Coalition's 'budget black hole' has failed to consume voters. That's why Joe Hockey offered little extra to the electorate today.

Joe Hockey's $9 billion in savings have come very late in the election campaign but will make little difference in the final assessment of voters. That's because the main point of the Coalition’s costings is that the whole sums are based on revenue estimates that Joe Hockey knows are highly likely to be wrong.  

He simply took the Treasury-Labor Party estimates of revenue, which are very bullish in terms of resources and other revenues. That, plus the cost cuts that the Labor Party has announced made it easy for him.

Assuming the Coalition gets in it will do a reassessment of income and will match that lower assessment with a complete relook at aspects of the Australian public service. In particular it will rationalise health, education and environmental expenditure for the states. The Coalition expects to reduce the public service by 12,000 largely as a result of natural attrition -- the final figure is likely to be much higher than that. There will be significant reductions following the abolition of the carbon tax and the vast amount of bureaucracy attached to it

This election campaign has been about politics on both sides. Come Sunday September 8, it will be about government. But Kevin Rudd and the ALP have not probed the major changes that the Coalition announced and have failed to engender real debate about the election of a new government for the country. Instead Kevin Rudd embarked on a presidential campaign. It didn’t work.

Meanwhile, the research undertaken by the Coalition revealed that the electorate is not concerned about costings. Right now the biggest issue in Western Australia, Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane is skyrocketing petrol prices, which have been boosted by the threat of bombing Syria and by the lower Australian dollar. The ALP ‘strategists’ therefore chose a most inopportune time to resurrect the carbon debate.  

Once the Coalition knew voters weren’t concerned about costings, however, it could afford to wait until days before the election to release them. And as it turned out, it received an unexpected bonus when Kevin Rudd tried to use figures from the Treasury and Finance Department to justify a $10 billion black hole. But unprecedented intervention by the public service made the relevance of the costings even less significant than the original figures.