Election 2022: Labor costings don’t demand APS cuts

By Tom Ravlic

May 20, 2022

Anthony Albanese
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

The much-awaited costings from the federal opposition have been released, with no sign of any cuts to the public service being flagged.

A Coalition costings document released earlier this week saw the incumbent government tell department heads they needed to trim their expenses by increasing the efficiency dividend from 1.5% to 2% so the Coalition’s election promises could be met.

This would have included staffing cuts of around 5,500, according to the CPSU, and was attacked by opposition leader Anthony Albanese as being the kind of cut leading to robodebt.

Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said the Labor costings, which have been worked on in conjunction with the Parliamentary Budget Office, result in a $7.4 billion difference between Labor and the Coalition.

“Every dollar of difference between us and the government is carefully calibrated to deliver a bigger economic return. To deal with these challenges that we would inherit. We would be inheriting a trillion dollars of debt, but we wouldn’t be inheriting an economic plan from this government,” Chalmers said.

“And the difference between our budget and the government’s budget is $7.4 billion of investments in key economy growing areas like childcare, and training, and cleaner and cheaper energy as well.”

Chalmers said the opposition has flagged $11.5 billion in budget improvements that include 13 savings measures set out in the 18-page costings document released two days before polling day.

“There is a budget repair task ahead of whoever wins the election. The first step is to make sure that we’ve got quality investments in the budget, that we end the rorts and the waste and the mismanagement,” Chalmers said.

Shadow finance minister Katy Gallagher said the costings plan incorporates declining deficits in coming years.

“Our responsible investments account for no more than an extra 0.4% of the total budget in any year. And it accounts for less than 0.1% of GDP in any year of the forward estimates. It’s less than half of what Scott Morrison gave to firms whose income increased during the pandemic,” Gallagher said.

Finance minister Simon Birmingham said Labor’s costings document was indicating deficits would be greater if a Labor government were elected based on the costings document.

“[This] document they’ve released shows that at a bare minimum, deficits will be higher each and every year under a Labor government to the tune of seven or $8 billion, we will see worse deficits,” Birmingham said.

“But then they’ve got more than $50 billion of secret funds that they have promised that they are pretending will be off the budget. So they’re saying they won’t contribute to deficits, but they will certainly contribute to debt.”


Election 2022: ‘A lazy cost-saving measure’: the Coalition’s efficiency dividend hike may mean longer wait times and reduced services

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