Did anyone else see the irony in Peter Costello using the Federal
Treasury to try and dump all over Malcolm Turnbull’s tax reform
forecasts? TheAustraliansplashed
with the story this morning and Sam Maiden was obviously given a decent
backgrounder about the Treasurer’s “withering savaging” of Australia’s richest MP in a briefing
to Liberal MPs.

However, surely any story about Costello and his Treasury attacking
someone else’s budget forecasts needs to provide the context of their
own woeful budget forecasting record. This is a table we first ran on
September 26 showing how wildly wrong the original and updated budget
forecasts have been over the past ten years:

Cossie’s lame forecasting record – the evidence

YearBudgetMid-year updateNext BudgetOutcome
1996-97-$5.65bnnot done-$6.89bn-$5.28bn
1997-98-$3.85bn-$2.75bn-$1.1bn$1.17bn
1998-99$2.69bn$3.27bn$2.88bn$4.34bn
1999-00$5.21bn$2.69bn$7.79bn$13.06bn
2000-01$2.84bn$4.33bn$2.25bn$5.97bn
2001-02$1.52bn$0.5bn-$1.19bn-$1.06bn
2002-03$2.09bn$2.14bn$3.92bn$7.48bn
2003-04$3.66bn$4.64bn$4.59bn$8.04bn
2004-05$2.39bn$6.21bn$9.23bn$13.62bn
2005-06$8.92bnto cometo cometo come

When you miss the outcome by an average of $7 billion over the three
years, you’ve got a thick hide to start bagging others. Then you have
the obvious ruse of magnifying Turnbull’s so-called blunders by
counting them over four years, rather than one. This is stock and trade
for any politician trying to reach as big a number as possible.

It seems that glass jaw Costello doth protest too much. First he
tried the giggling on national television to demean Turnbull and now
he’s attempting to manipulate outcomes through official bureaucratic
channels. Everyone knows that Australia’s punitive personal income tax
scales need major reform and Turnbull should not be slapped down like
this by a paranoid Treasurer.

The failure of Costello’s Victorian division to nurture any
high-powered senior Federal Ministers to replace the likes of Michael
Wooldridge, Peter Reith, Richard Alston and Rod Kemp speaks volumes
about his fear of potential rivals, something that his treatment of
Turnbull highlights.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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