On Friday, Shadow Treasurer, the Hon Chris Bowen MP, led the earliest ever release of an opposition party’s costings, predicting that a potential Shorten-Labor government would deliver a surplus in 2020, the same year the Coalition claims it would deliver a surplus.

The costings largely focused on the ALP’s pledge to provide cost of living relief for working Australians and pensioners. A crackdown on multinational tax avoidance, capital gains concessions and dividend imputation will allow Labor to deliver its ambitious education and healthcare spending promises.

The Shadow Treasurer stated that ‘based on the forecasts and projects in the 2019 Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Outlook (PEFO), Labor will take to the election a budget that:

  • Achieves a budget surplus in 2019-20, the same year as the government;
  • Delivers budget surpluses over the forward estimates over 40% larger than the government, and bigger surpluses over the medium-term;
  • Achieves strong surpluses of 1% of GDP by 2022-23, four years earlier than the current government trajectory; and
  • Uses the $87 billion in bigger surplus over the medium term to pay down more debt.’

Shadow Minister for Finance, Dr Jim Chalmers MP, qualified the costings by saying that ‘whoever wins this election, whether it is us or the other mob, they will inherit a budget which is currently in deficit’. Regardless of who wins government, it is certain that they will be dealing with a volatile and unstable global economy, which makes remaining committed to party costings on either side extremely difficult.

In a press conference in Rockhampton, the Prime Minister responded to the costings, raising doubts over Labor’s figures given that they excluded details about changes to Newstart and superannuation.

The Hon Scott Morrison MP stated ‘the government has demonstrated its ability to manage money and get things back on track. That’s what people can trust. They can’t trust a Labor Party when every time they have had the opportunity, they’ve fallen over when it comes to financial management.’