Treasurer Joe Hockey sought to highlight how the 2012-13 figures showed that even as the former government vowed to deliver a surplus, it projected an $18.8 billion underlying cash deficit.
Treasurer Joe Hockey sought to highlight how the 2012-13 figures showed that even as the former government vowed to deliver a surplus, it projected an $18.8 billion underlying cash deficit. Barry Ledicoat

Coalition's 'budget position' needs improvement: Hockey

A FRESH examination of budget figures by the new Coalition Government is a smokescreen, according to the Opposition, to help the government justify a campaign of cost cutting.

As he released the Final Budget Outcome on Friday, Treasurer Joe Hockey sought to highlight how the 2012-13 figures, published in mid-2012, showed that even as the former government vowed to deliver a surplus, it projected an $18.8 billion underlying cash deficit.

The damage to Labor's legacy was partly mitigated, however, as the figures also showed the final underlying cash balance was $543 million better than forecast.

However, the figures also show the fiscal balance deficit was worse off by $3.2 billion than expected last year.

Mr Hockey, alongside Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, said it was now up to the new government to improve the "budget position", although the pair did not give detail on how.

It is understood the Prime Minister will soon use a Commission of Audit to find savings.

In 2012 when the LNP took government in Queensland, one of its first acts was to appoint a similar commission, which later recommended the privatisation of assets and public sector reforms that resulted in up to 10,000 job losses.

Opposition Leader and former Treasurer Chris Bowen said Mr Hockey was "trying to paint" a problem with the budget when one did not exist.

"He's trying to paint the scene for his Commission of Audit makes more cuts," he said.

"To come out today and claim (the figures) as a revelation is dishonest and unacceptable."

As of April this year, Australia had one of the lowest levels of debt compared to gross domestic product in the world, and was one of only eight countries worldwide to hold the highest possible credit rating.

 

FAST FIGURES

How the 2012-13 figures stacked up:

  • Underlying cash deficit: $18.8b (up $543m on forecast)
  • Fiscal balance deficit: $23.5b (down $3.2b on forecast)
  • Expenses $382.6b (up $1.2b on forecast)

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