This morning at the AFR, Wayne Swan is said to be preparing a number of initiatives for his final budget (whoops!):
The Gillard government will increase pressure on the opposition over policy costings by publishing the final budget figure well before the election and requiring in law an independent audit of every political party’s promises that would be published one month after polling day.
…Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey has dismissed calls by the government to release policy costings and says he will adhere to the usual timetable of waiting for the release of the pre-election fiscal outlook, which will be in mid-August, 10 days into the campaign.
In a bid to pressure the opposition to release figures earlier, Mr Swan will promise to release the preliminary underlying cash balance for 2012-13 “well before the election’’.
The same story reckons Swan will defend the deficit on the basis that:
“We have seen a longer-term hit to our revenue from the GFC, ongoing global volatility and the evolution of the mining boom through its enormous investment phase,” he will say. “These impacts have lasted longer than we originally expected.’’
I’ve noted many times over the past two years that Labor has no convincing economic narrative to make it a clear and cogent political option. Wayne Swan has spent the better part of this period berating the public for a lack of confidence despite his government’s allegedly excellent economic stewardship. Now it looks now like there is a shift on and MB is writing the government’s re-election narrative:
- resonate with the populace by using language that reflects their post-GFC conservatism and savings drive;
- release budget figures as early as possible to Abbott to pigeon-hole his spending cuts;
- fight the election on the grounds that the Libs are austerity nutters, unwilling to contemplate deficits even when they are needed for growth. Thus wedging their number one strength, budget management.
It’s a winning strategy. Can they pull it off? It will take clear communication and a united team. Oh…