Kevin Rudd, Chris Bowen and Penny Wong claim that they have laid out the full budget details of their policies in the August Economic Statement.
Well they haven’t.
We don’t know of the costs of measures beyond the forward estimates period.
We don’t know of the costs of guarantees and other off-budget promises
We don’t know of the costs of policies they are hiding until after the election.
We don’t know the burden that Labor policies present and future will place on future taxpayers.
At a minimum the Government should publish the present value of the costs of its promises, not just the four year costing. The costs beyond the forward estimates period can swamp those within the forward estimates and are a crucial driver of the sustainability of the budget over the medium to long-term. Once a policy has been implemented it is difficult to abolish or alter. It is better to get it right first time.
It should also disclose the estimated cost of guarantees and other contingent liabilities for the policies it proposes. Realised contingent liabilities are a further threat to the sustainability of the budget. Indeed, as the budget position gets more precarious, governments have an added incentive to move expenditure off-budget. The guarantee for the NBN is a classic example, and is difficult to quantify and difficult to manage. It amounts to a subsidy from the taxpayer to the NBN.
What are you hiding Mr Rudd?