Even before being sworn into office Kevin Rudd is being advised to break his election promises. So far he is showing no sign of doing so. Indeed, he wants to establish Key Performance Indicators for the promises he has already made. Taxpayers and voters can only applaud such a policy approach. Of course, he may come to regret such candour, but we the people should come to expect greater accountability from government. After all it is our money.

Of course Mr Rudd needs to be accountable across of whole range of indicators, not just those he chooses himself. We the people need to hold him to account just as he holds his ministers to account. According to the RBA, the inflation rate is now 1.9 percent – recently described as “rampant inflation” by the ABC’s Jon Faine – and the policy interest rate is now 6.75 percent.

According to the ABS, labour force participation is 65 percent, unemployment is 4.3 percent, and the economy is growing at 4.3 percent. By any definition, those are a beautiful set of numbers.

Turning to election promises, Mr Rudd indicated that $3 billion of savings would be made by a razor gang. Included in those savings is stripping $129.8 million from the Australian Security and Investments Commission over four years, and also $37.5 million from the Carrick Institute – this institute exists to promote and advance teaching and learning in higher education. Mr Rudd’s education revolution does not extend to higher education. Any expansion of university funding will break his promise to end the election spendathon – unless, of course, it is matched by spending cuts elsewhere in the budget.

Not only has he promised $31 billion in tax cuts, he has also promised not to increase the tax take as a proportion of GDP, and also he has promised to maintain the surplus. Fiscal weasels are already attacking that promise. A correspondent to the Financial Review, for example, suggested that budget surpluses should be maintained on average only. While others suggest that budget surpluses play no role in constraining inflation. Mr Rudd’s promises are unambiguous – he needs to deliver.

Mr Rudd is probably making a rod for his own back. He may lose several of his ministers and struggle to meet KPIs. Yet he should rest assured that economic conservatives will be watching his spending and counting his tax cuts. We will applaud all spending cuts and all tax cuts.

Peter Fray

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