Federal Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey has branded the 2012 budget “confused”, claiming it fails to provide measures to aid economic growth and will ramp up future debt.
In his response to Treasurer Wayne Swan’s annual centrepiece, Hockey says that the Government has resorted to a “cook the books” budget in order to deliver the forecast $1.5 billion surplus in the upcoming financial year.
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“This is a deceitful budget – spending this financial year is around $100 billion more than it was just four years ago,” he says.
“It is a ‘cook the books’ budget – the forecast surplus in 2012-13 is based on fiddled figures and money shuffles.”
“And the budget provides no buffer against future economic shocks as the economic storm clouds gather in Europe.”
In a wide-ranging assault on Labor’s economic credentials, Hockey pointed to higher taxes, the carbon pricing scheme and a predicted rise in unemployment as evidence of the budget’s failure.
“This is the fourth Labor deficit in four years, which together total $174 billion,” he says.
“Wayne Swan has never managed to get his figures right. The 2011-12 budget deficit has now blown out three times – from $12 billion, to $23 billion, to $37 billion, to $44 billion and the year has not yet finished.”
“In headline cash terms, the Gillard government will spend $8.7 billion more than it earns in 2012-13 because the Government continues to spend on projects such as the NBN which have been taken ‘off budget’.”
“If the Government was honest, and included NBN expenditure, the budget would show deficits over the next three years.”
“To put it simply, there would be no surplus if the NBN was on the books.”
“In fact, by bringing forward just two programmes – the ‘back to school’ payment and Commonwealth grants to local government – the Government artificially saves more than $1.5 billion in 2012-13.”
“Honest budget treatment of these two programmes alone would wipe out Wayne Swan’s wafer-thin surplus.”