Opposition Threat to the Budget Surplus

07 June 2011

Today we see reports that the Opposition is threatening to wreck the surplus by proposing to block savings measures outlined in the 2011-12 Budget.
The Opposition has been critical of savings measures announced by the Government through Family Tax Benefits, the Fringe Benefits Tax, the Dependent Spouse Tax Offset and the Entrepreneurs Tax Offset.
The Opposition is also indicating that it will continue to block two major savings measures - means testing for the Private Health Insurance rebate and closure of the Chronic Disease Dental Scheme.
If the Opposition is going to block savings measures, the only fiscally responsible approach is to put forward alternative savings.
This point was recently acknowledged by former Finance Minister Nick Minchin, who warned his colleagues that anything less was fiscally irresponsible.
The Gillard Government has a clear plan to return the budget to surplus in 2012-13, so that we are not adding to price pressures.
However the Opposition appears determined to play negative politics with the budget threatening to block savings measures because they are too tough, and then criticising the Government for not reducing the deficit faster.
The Opposition can either back the savings measures in the budget or be upfront with the Australian people about the fact that they would be in deficit over the forward estimates.