The Australian: Victorian Treasurer Michael O’Brien says Labor election pledges at $33bn, and counting. 21 November 2014. John Ferguson, Victorian Political Editor, Melbourne, Rachel Baxendale, Reporter Melbourne
Victorian Labor is under pressure to detail how it will fund its election promises, amid Coalition claims that the spending has hit nearly $33 billion.
Labor leader Daniel Andrews accused the Napthine government yesterday of running a cynical political campaign against its policy agenda, which it has refused to cost until well into the last week of the campaign.
But Victorian Treasurer Michael O’Brien said Labor had gone on a spending spree that couldn’t be funded, yesterday claiming a further $300 million “black hole’’ in policy estimates.
Mr O’Brien said Labor had underfunded a suburban railway extension in Melbourne’s outer north, which the ALP said would cost as little as $400m.
However, he said, Department of Treasury and Finance costings had put the extension at $700m: “No wonder Labor refuses to submit its ($32.7bn) of promises to independent costing by Treasury.’’
The government’s $33bn spending estimate is based on total spending promised by Labor in the lead-up to the November 29 election.
The government claims the Coalition has made spending promises of $8.5bn, a figure based on new initiatives over and above those already budgeted for.
The government added a further $111m in Labor spending yesterday, including $100m for bus services and money for a medical centre.
Labor has vowed to have its promises independently costed and accounted for by the end of next week, although several hundred thousand people will have voted early by then.
Mr Andrews said Labor had followed the normal processes for getting policies costed and that they would be independently assessed by accounting firm Moore Stephens. He has rejected Labor having its policies costed by Treasury and Finance.
“We’re going to do this the normal way,’’ he said. “All of our commitments are costed and funded, and if we’re given the great honour of governing this state, all of our commitments will be delivered in full. In full.’’
Mr Andrews’s biggest challenge if elected will be funding the abolition of the East West Link road and rail tunnel project.
He has promised to tear up the contracts for the project at a minimum cost of several hundred million dollars.
Some estimates have put the cost of busting the contracts as high as $3bn. Properties have been acquired already.