Joe Hockey
Joe Hockey

Cold water poured on Coalition's $10b error claim

UPDATE: Treasury has poured cold water on Labor's claims the Coalition's $31 billion in savings are out by a full $10 billion.

A statement released late on Thursday by Treasury head Dr Martin Parkinson and Finance Department chief David Tune has clarified the bureaucracy's position on the costings.

While a statement from Labor campaign headquarters did not claim the costings were up to date, it did claim the figures showed a $10 billion hole in the Coalition's $31.6 billion savings, announced Wednesday.

But the Labor attack depended on costings completed before the government went into caretaker mode, figures which were based on different financial assumptions than the Opposition's claims.

A statement from Dr Parkinson and Mr Tune said all costings completed for the government were completed and submitted before the election was called.

"These costings were not prepared under the election costings commitments' process outlined in the Charter of Budget Honesty," the statement reads.

"At no stage prior to the Caretaker period has either department costed Opposition policies."

While the bureaucracy does not dispute the validity or otherwise of the costings, it shows the figures released on Thursday were not up to date.

The statement has essentially confirmed an argument by shadow finance minister Mathias Cormann that different assumptions were used to calculate the figures.

"Different costing assumptions, such as the start date of a policy, take-up assumptions, indexation and the coverage that applies, will inevitably generate different financial outcomes," the joint department statement reads.

"The financial implications of a policy may also differ depending on whether the costing is presented on an underlying cash balance or fiscal balance basis."


ORIGINAL STORY: Labor has taken the unusual step of releasing private briefing documents to back up its claim of a $10 billion hole in the Coalition's savings released on Wednesday.

Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey outlined $31.6 billion in savings - including scrapping the carbon and mining taxes and cutting 12,000 public service jobs - ahead of his National Press Club debate with Treasurer Chris Bowen on Wednesday.

But Mr Bowen, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Finance Minister Penny Wong released documents from Treasury, Department of Finance and the Parliamentary Budget Office on Thursday which they said exposed a $10 billion error in the Coalition's sums.

The error included claiming an additional $2 billion in savings from not proceeding with the Low Income Superannuation Contribution, claiming an additional $2.4 billion in savings from reducing the public service and claiming an additional $1.2 billion in savings from discontinuing the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the Coalition's numbers had been produced by the PBO and "validated by three distinguished public finance experts".

"Let's be very clear, Mr Rudd has got all his own figures wrong, now he's getting our figures wrong too," Mr Abbott said.

"I am confident that the assumptions that we have made are the correct assumptions."

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