Victoria election 2014: Labor reveals policy costings

ABC Victoria: Victoria election 2014: Labor reveals policy costings. By Alison Savage. 27 November 2014

The Victorian Labor Party has released an assessment of its policy costings, including details of what savings measures it would implement if it wins this Saturday’s election.

In a coup for Labor, its costings have been approved by the former head of the Kennett and Howard Government’s Commissions of Audit, Professor Bob Officer.

The party has made $3.3 billion worth of recurrent spending promises over four years.

Labor said there would be no new taxes or tax increases, no impact on debt, and no impact on the projected surplus or Victoria’s AAA credit rating.

Labor’s treasury spokesman Tim Pallas said the costings process has been thorough.

“This is the most rigorous costings process undertaken by an opposition,” he said.

The costings document also included an unspecified contingency plan to cover any potential compensation payments for the cancellation of the East West Link project, believed to be worth about $1.2 billion.

Labor’s treasury spokesman Tim Pallas said he did not believe the contingency would ever be used because Labor was confident its plan to scrap the project was on strong legal ground.

“We’ve put aside sufficient contingency to deal with even the most extreme and might I say improper of outcomes should it occur,” he said.

Labor also revealed $300 million in savings over four years by cutting taxpayer-funded advertising, cutting 52 departmental executive positions and no longer printing hard-copy reports to Parliament.

As well as gaining the approval of Professor Officer, the costings were also signed off on by accounting firm Moore Stephens and former TAC chairman James MacKenzie.

Labor costings ‘have more holes that swiss cheese’: Coalition

But Victorian Treasurer Michael O’Brien dismissed the analysis of the costings.

“This is a fraud by the Labor Party, it’s no wonder they’ve left it until two days before the polls to try and push these costings out,” he said.

“Labor’s signature policies have got more holes in them than a piece of swiss cheese.”

This is a fraud by the Labor Party, it’s no wonder they’ve left it until two days before the polls.

He said a number of Labor’s promises have been under-costed, including its promise to remove 50 level crossings.

“They’ve under-funded 20 level crossings and they haven’t got any money for 30 of them,” he said.

“The second major policy of Labor is the Melbourne Metro; well, not one single dollar for construction in the next four years.”

Mr O’Brien said the Victorian Treasury had signed off on all of the Coalition’s promises.

The costings process in Victoria has been controversial, with both Labor and the Coalition in opposition refusing to submit policies to Treasury for analysis.

The Napthine Government did seek to establish a Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) to assess all party’s election commitments, but legislation to establish it was defeated earlier this year by Labor and balance-of-power independent Geoff Shaw.

Labor’s Tim Pallas said a Labor Government would seek to establish a PBO if it wins office, but would use a better model than that proposed by the current government.

“The costings fiascos, as I call them, the arguments that go on between political parties, can be improved,” he said.

“Voters actually deserve a greater level of certainty, not a lesser level of certainty.”

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