Wong steps up pressure on Coalition's spending plans

The Coalition's budget is $9 billion in the red, the government will claim today as it increases pressure on the opposition to detail its spending plans.

The Coalition's budget is $9 billion in the red, the government will claim today as it increases pressure on the opposition to detail its spending plans.

The Coalition's budget is $9 billion in the red, the federal government will claim today as it increases pressure on the opposition to detail its spending plans.

The Finance Minister, Penny Wong, said: ''We have laid out our plans in the budget papers - the opposition wants to keep theirs a secret.''

Costings done by her office assume the Coalition would unwind the means test on private health insurance, retain the tax cuts and payment increases associated with the carbon tax and repeal the mining tax.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott promised an audit commission in government to look at public spending.

Their assumptions also include a $430 million mental health package announced by the Coalition last year as well as the initial capital costs and ongoing expenditure of reopening Nauru as an immigration processing centre.

The Coalition is furiously trying to establish its economic credentials with treasury spokesman Joe Hockey giving a major speech this month and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott promising an audit commission in government to look at public spending.

Mr Abbott has also warned he will not be making too many more expensive policy announcements as he strives to keep the Coalition's budget in surplus.

With the Senate to consider the mining tax laws tomorrow, Treasurer Wayne Swan is also seeking to build public pressure for the legislation to pass.

Mr Swan yesterday launched a website calculator that can show people how much extra they will reap in lifetime savings from the proposed boost to superannuation that Labor has linked to the mining tax, although most workers will fund the rise themselves in wage trade-offs with their employers.

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