/Campaign turns fishy as Labor releases its federal election costings

Campaign turns fishy as Labor releases its federal election costings

Updated

May 10, 2019 19:02:36

You could be forgiven for thinking the major parties have been binging runs of the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Forget the free cars though, it’s tax cuts and surpluses that they’re keen to dish out.

‘You get a tax cut, you get a tax cut, you get a tax cut,’ both sides have been yelling day in, day out.

‘A surplus this year, a surplus next year — have we mentioned the surplus?’

Tax cuts and surpluses have been a major plotline of the federal election ever since the campaign unofficially begun when the Coalition released its budget.

Fast-forward a month and it was Labor’s turn to front the cameras and explain just how it was going to pay for everything it was promising.

Labor releases its costings

For Labor to be promising greater surpluses than the Coalition is an anomaly clearly not lost on the Shadow Treasurer.

“I accept it’s unusual, perhaps historically, for the Labor Party to go to an election promising bigger budget surpluses,” Mr Bowen conceded in an interview with the ABC.

“But it’s right for the times, because we do believe that the economy needs a bigger buffer.”

The Opposition’s plans to curb negative gearing, capital gains tax concessions and dividend imputation have been a central battle in the federal election campaign.

Those bigger surpluses, according to Labor’s projections, are minor to begin with.

It’s forecasting a $7.5 billion surplus next financial year, compared to the $7.1 billion prediction in the 2019-20 Budget papers.

The difference then grows in the future years, as the government coffers gain their biggest benefit from the contentious tax changes Labor is proposing.

Mr Bowen insists Labor will offer $17 billion more in surpluses over the first four years, increasing to $86 billion more over the difficult-to-predict decade.

Labor is forecasting $154 billion dollars in savings from the budget changes it’s proposing, but the Coalition isn’t buying what Labor is selling.

“There is something very fishy about Labor’s figures, and there is something very fishy about Labor’s ability to manage money,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned.

“That’s why I don’t think Australians at the end of the day will trust them on these things.”

Cutting energy prices

Having dismissed Labor’s costings as an illusion, the Coalition turned its attention to energy prices.

It’s a historically fraught area for the Coalition, having most recently toppled a prime minister thanks in part to his approach to renewables.

Forget the past, the Coalition argued.

It wanted to talk about the future and the 25 per cent cut it was promising to electricity bills within three years.

Energy Minister Angus Taylor vowed he would cut the electricity spot price.

While the wholesale energy price is largely paid by commercial and industrial customers, the Energy Minister said he expected the reduction would be passed on to households.

And if they didn’t, he warned them to expect ministerial intervention.

“That’s what they should do, but we have the levers necessary to make sure the market gets us there and we will use them if we need to,” Mr Taylor said.

If the Coalition wasn’t having Labor’s costings, the Opposition was returning the favour when it came to energy.

“How many times did the Government call you [journalists] out into the courtyard at Parliament and say ‘victory, peace in our time, we’ve solved the energy crisis. Gas is going to be cheaper, energy is going to be cheaper’?

“Haven’t they already told us they’ll lower power prices, now they’ll do it again.”

The seats shaping the election

The end of the work week brings with it the close on week four of the election campaign.

The campaign to date reveals where the major parties think the election will be won.

For the Coalition, and a Prime Minister who has done the heavy lifting of the campaign efforts, he’s focused his attention in northern Tasmania, Queensland, eastern Melbourne and inner-west Sydney.

Outgoing Liberal MP Craig Laundy’s electorate of Reid has received three visits from Mr Morrison, in a sign the party is worried about the 4.7 per cent margin it’s sitting on.

He spent time in Queensland this week, sandbagging the ultra-marginal Capricornia — the most marginal Coalition seat in the country.

He’s spent time in the neighbouring Flynn, also a Nationals seat, but is yet to find time to visit George Christensen’s seat of Dawsonan electorate that’s attracted plenty of attention for the MP’s regular travel to the Philippines.

The Prime Minister has, however, visited Mr Christensen’s National neighbour, Ken O’Dowd in Flynn.

The Opposition Leader also found time to soak up the northern sunshine on offer this week.

He focused his efforts in the Coalition-held marginal seat of Leichhardt.

Labor is keen to pick up seats in outer Brisbane, with Deputy Labor Leader Tanya Plibersek making repeat trips to Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s seat Dickson.

Reid is also clearly on Mr Shorten’s list, with the electorate one of the most common he’s visited.

This week also saw him find time to visit regional NSW electorates Gilmore and Robertson, both of which are Coalition-held.

The leaders have just one more week to convince voters to back them in.

There’s eight days to go.

Topics:

government-and-politics,

federal-elections,

australia

First posted

May 10, 2019 18:58:36