The Abbott Government needs to take responsibility for its own Budget policy and for an $18.4 billion blow-out in the budget deficit in 2013-14.

The Treasurer said today that the Final Budget Outcome for 2013-14 was:

“The final budget outcome for the last year of a Labor Government.”

We know the Treasurer would rather forget the last year, but the last time we checked, the Abbott Government has been responsible for Budget and economic policy since September 2013.  That’s 75 per cent of the 2013-14 financial year.

The fact is that under the Abbott Government’s watch, the budget deficit for 2013-14 went from $30.1 billion at in the independent Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Outlook to $48.5 billion in the Final Budget Outcome released today.

Of the $18.4 billion blow-out, over half - $10.8 billion – is due to policy decisions taken by the Abbott Government, including the $8.8 billion grant to the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Other key decisions by the Abbott Government in 2013-14 included reducing the amount of tax paid by multinational companies.

The Abbott Government’s treatment of fiscal policy for the 2013-14 financial year tells you everything you need to know about their political approach and values.

For the Treasurer and the Abbott Government, it’s been about perpetuating Budget mythology and manipulation, and rewarding those who don’t need support while punishing those who do.

The Treasurer and Finance Minister today also made a compelling case for Labor’s reforms to the Parliamentary Budget Office.

The Treasurer said at the press conference today:

“Well, ultimately the forecasts published in a budget belong to the Treasurer and the Minister for Finance.”

Mr Hockey, that’s exactly the point. The Treasurer and Minister for Finance just don’t understand it. Economic forecasts shouldn’t be a political plaything they should be produced at arm’s length from government.

An expanded role for the independent Parliamentary Budget Office will promote stronger fiscal discipline and will further enhance transparency around Commonwealth Budgets.

Labor’s reforms will see an enhanced Parliamentary Budget Office undertake the following functions:

  • Prepare macroeconomic forecasts that underpin all key Budget statements and updates;
  • Prepare and publish the Intergenerational Report (IGR) every five years;
  • Prepare and publish an annual structural budget balance.

The need for change comes on the back of the Coalition’s clear and complete abuse of the Charter of Budget of Honesty, set up by former Treasurer Peter Costello.

Tony Burke