Hockey sticks to surplus pledge
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CANBERRA, Jan 28 AAP
January 28 2013, 08:22AM
Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey insists a coalition government will deliver a surplus in its first year, even though the pledge is not mentioned in a new policy document.
The 50-page booklet launched by federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott at a campaign rally on Sunday commits the coalition only to "get the budget back under control" and "live within our means".
There is no timeframe.
But Mr Hockey says he hasn't abandoned a pledge made last year to deliver a surplus in the coalition government's first year.
"Our commitment is emphatic," he told ABC radio on Monday.
"Based on the numbers published today we will deliver a surplus in our first year and every year after that."
But he says the government won't reveal the budget's current state so until the pre-election fiscal outlook is released "we do not know what the funding envelope is for our commitment".
The coalition's "real solutions" booklet is stamped "fully costed - budgeted" throughout, but there is no detail about where the few specific dollar figures mentioned will come from.
Mr Hockey says his party has been doing policy costing work for the last three years and "all will be revealed well before the next election".
But he dodged a question on whether the costing work had been done by coalition MPs or an independent source.
"We've been using a range of different sources but ultimately we rely on the government numbers," he said.
In December Mr Hockey said he had submitted at least 40 policies to the independent Parliamentary Budget Office, although that office could not confirm if this was true.
The coalition's campaign blueprint broadly promises a stronger economy.
Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne said the Australian economy was entering a "dangerous phase".
"We are highly taxed, we have a big spending government which is not encouraging economic growth across the economy but simply relying on creating new sources of revenue ... to cobble together a budget," Mr Pyne told ABC Radio.
He dismissed suggestions the economy was already strong and the envy of the world.
"Labor keeps saying that but the truth is if you've just lost your job at Boral or Penrice Soda or any of the car industry places around Australia, you're certainly not feeling like this is a strong economy," he said.
"The prime minister simply described those job loses as growing pains which is easy for her to say but not so easy for the families who have to pay mortgages."