Martin Parkinson (Treasury Secretary) and David Tune (Finance Secretary) have today issued a media release that claims that they have not costed Opposition policies.
At no stage prior to the Caretaker period has either Department costed Opposition policies.
Yet Labor has just released a Treasury minute that costs various policies such as repealing the carbon tax and the Minerals Resource Rent Tax.
Treasury and Finance undertook these costing before Kevin Rudd asked the Governor-General to dissolve Parliament, and they were provided by Treasury and Finance on 5 August 2013.
They are stated as ‘hypothetical’ costing requests.
Treasury and Finance are incorrect to state that they have not costed Opposition policies. The abolition of the carbon tax and MRRT are long-standing Coalition policies which the Labor Party adamantly opposes. This is plain and it is the worst form of obfuscation by Parkinson and Tune to claim otherwise.
They have failed in their duties as public servants. The APS Code of Conduct includes
not provide false or misleading information in response to a request for information that is made for official purposes in connection with the employee’s APS employment
Stating that the costings were not of Opposition policies is both false and misleading and a breach of the Code of Conduct by these two secretaries.
When the Government asked the departments to undertake costings of what were clearly Opposition policies the secretaries should have politely declined, stating that this would be politicising the departments. Kevin Rudd could have sacked them, I suppose, but at least they would have been acting ethically and in keeping with the spirit of the public service of acting impartially.
Former secretaries have certainly undertaken costings of hypothetical items, but have also rejected requests from the Government in similar circumstances (I know of at least two cases where a Treasurer request was declined under a previous Treasury Secretary).
The Coalition’s best response is to cite the Treasury minute and state categorically that Treasury has not costed the Coalition’s policy to abolish the carbon tax and MRRT.