Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says the Coalition will only release its policy costings after the government releases theirs, after the Prime Minister flagged a number of cost-saving measures to be considered ahead of the budget.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Julia Gillard identified areas where the government will attempt to make savings, referring to measures for high income earners that have already been abolished.
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“The dependent spouse tax offset, the tax breaks for golden handshakes, tax concessions on super for high income earners, the millionaires’ dental scheme and fringe benefits loopholes for executives living away from home… all gone,” she said.
Reports suggest the government will focus on ending tax-free superannuation withdrawals for those with very high balances, while business tax concessions are also rumoured to be cut.
Paul Drum, head of policy at Certified Practicing Accountants, said it is disappointing to learn business concessions will be targeted, but said the government “has been looking under every rock” for savings.
Wayne Swan said today the government will provide full forecasts in the May budget.
“We will go through the early part of this year, we’ll provide some guidance on what may be happening with revenue and the international economic situation, but full forecasts will be provided in the budget in May.
“I mean, there’s nothing to stop the opposition putting out costed policies now, but they’re determined not to do that.”
Swan said there is “absolutely no excuse” for the opposition to fail to put forward costed policies.
“Failure to do so, I think, will actually very clearly indicate what their agenda is, which is not to put out detailed policies based on forecasts and information either from the budget or from the Parliamentary Budget Office.”
In his address to the National Press Club today, Abbott said he has no intention to release policy detail simply because Gillard has set the election date.
“The Coalition will release our costings after the government releases theirs after the budget and before polling day,” he said.
Abbott, who has vowed to disband the carbon tax if he becomes prime minister, admitted it would be a difficult task to find the money, but insists “we won’t shirk the hard decisions”.