Today we see reports that Tony Abbott is planning to outline his budget in reply without any alternative costings, in an effort to avoid scrutiny of his fiscal position.
In todays Australian Financial Review, Mr Abbott is reported as saying he would outline an alternative vision for the country but would not commit to release costings of any of his alternative savings in his budget in reply.
On Saturday, Mr Abbott told The Weekend Australian: ...I don't think you should expect from us an alternative saving list to accompany this budget.
Mr Abbott must be clear on whether he supports the Governments goal to return the Budget to surplus in 2012-13.
And, unless the Opposition is proposing to adopt the Governments Budget in full, Tony Abbott must be clear in his budget in reply the savings measures he will take to achieve that goal.
This is the approach the Opposition, through Andrew Robb, took last year: http://andrewrobb.com.au/Media/Speeches/tabid/73/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/1092/categoryId/22/Coalitions-Plan-to-Rein-in-Rudds-Reckless-Spending.aspx
Now, following the $10.6 billion black hole identified by Treasury and Finance in its election costings and its flawed flood levy savings package, the Opposition appears to have decided that costings are too much of a political risk.
This is not acceptable from a man presenting himself as the alternative Prime Minister.
In his budget in reply last year, Mr Abbott said all Opposition policies would be fully costed and fully funded because the Australian people are entitled to reassurance that the alternative governments promises are responsible and achievable. Failure to produce costings in his budget in reply this year will show that Mr Abbott no longer holds himself to this standard.
This Government has a responsible plan to return the budget to surplus in the years ahead to ensure we are not adding to price pressures caused by the mining boom.
We will explain our detailed, costed economic plans to the Australian people and Mr Abbott should do the same.