Laurie Oakes writing in the Herald Sun:
There had been another stark example of Turnbull being let down a day earlier, when Treasurer Scott Morrison introduced legislation for proposed Budget savings that turned out to contain a $100 million error.
Someone, presumably in Treasury, had added up a series of figures and got the sum wrong. The blunder was not picked up by Morrison or his office, but Labor shadow treasurer Chris Bowen spotted it very quickly.
Turnbull was not at fault. The PM can hardly be expected to whip out a calculator and check the maths before Bills hit the parliament. But the incident undermined his attempts to demonstrate he heads a competent government, just as losing a series of divisions in parliament greatly weakened his claim that a slim majority does not equal instability.
An arithmetic error is a pretty embarrassing mistake to make. Yet we all know that it is an easy mistake to make and more importantly that it would have been a mistake. The problem for the government is that it is a mistake everyone understands.
Unlike, say, the stimulusgate (pdf) “mistake” where Treasury dropped observations from their regression model until the data confirmed their analysis. Or the FuelWatch “mistake” where the ACCC analysis suffered from omitted variable bias. Or the corporate tax forecasting “mistake” where it turned out that Treasury wasn’t forecasting the corporate tax base at all. I could go on – there was the carbon tax modelling, the mining tax modelling, the 2012 return to surplus, the plain packaging modelling, and so on.
The problem is that Turnbull is going to be crucified for an actual mistake simply because people can understand the error. Previous government have gotten away with actual falsehoods because the issues are complex.