Feb 3, 2015

Remember Labor’s ‘skyrocketing debt’? The Coalition’s is much worse

The "grown-ups" of the Abbott government were big on rhetoric but not so big on delivery when it came to reducing the debt. Freelance journalist Alan Austin runs the numbers.

Figures released Friday night on Australia’s finances are grim reading for anyone seeking respite for the embattled Abbott government.

The Coalition that promised in 2012 to reduce Australia’s debt by $30 billion delivered in 2014 an increase of more than $60 billion. Clearly Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey have failed spectacularly to reduce Labor’s “skyrocketing debt”.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

26 thoughts on “Remember Labor’s ‘skyrocketing debt’? The Coalition’s is much worse

  1. Honest Johnny

    Blame it on the “opportunists” Labor. Blame it on the “economic vandals” Greens. Blame it on the “recalcitrant” Senate. Didn’t Abbott say that putting the adults back in charge would mean an end to the blame game?

  2. James O'Neill

    Alan, it is no wonder that the figures were released on a Friday night. I think that what is needed is a genuinely radical reappraisal of the revenue side of the equation. That would include but not be limited to removing tax breaks for multinationals; the feasibility of a Tobin tax; making GST both universal and at a high rate (with compensatory tax breaks for low income people) and the dismantling of Howard’s middle class welfare largesse. On the expenditure side an equally radical reappraisal is needed, not in cutting the welfare bill which is the favoured Tory approach, but asking hard questions about “defence” expenditure. The F35 boondoggle is but one area where billions have been and will be wasted for no obvious strategic purpose.

  3. Harry Smith

    Ummm might it have anything to do with the Labor and Greens blocking it in the Senate?

    So the actions of Labor are still racking up debt.

    See it for what it is. Labor causing more debt.

  4. Honest Johnny

    No Harry, its actually got more to do with the big ticket spending items of the Abbott Govt as well as the removal of effective revenue streams all approved by the Senate with the help of Palmer. What is being blocked in the Senate are unfair cuts to welfare, health and education, all spending cut items, minor in comparison to what the Senate has put through. Don’t be fooled by Abbott/Hockey rhetoric, seek out the truth.

  5. westral

    Thankfully we have been delivered from the years of Labor chaos and now have responsible people in charge of the government of this great country. If the debt has increased under the coalition it is because Labor has been so intransigent as to oppose the government’s entirely reasonable programs which have created a higher class of chaos than Labor could ever aspire to. The pity is that most of Australia does not realise who to thank for this, it is in fact that great captain toxic Tony, long may he rule to create knights and dames in plenty.

  6. Harry Smith

    “Unfair” cuts to welfare, health and education? Well, what you may call unfair, frankly, others won’t.

    Palmer has no problem with high debt levels just like labor. The revenue streams (eg carbon tax) that the public opposed were rid of, but the spending that were supported by that tax were blocked by Labor, Greens, and Palmer.

    At the end of the day, this article aims to place blame on the incumbent, when they are actually dealing with ALP’s scorched earth exit from government (long, locked in committments), and a hostile senate. So you can’t blame the Libs for that.

    Honest Jonny, you are being fooled by the Left.

  7. Brightside

    So Harry, on your reasoning, structural deficits resulting form ‘middle class welfare’ dolled out during a temporary resources boom can be lay fairly at the feet of the Howard government? In any case, argument over history is a moot point. the real issues is the lack of viable policy ideas, to fix the revenue/budget problem, that are acceptable to the majority.

  8. Honest Johnny

    Fooled by the left eh? As an economist and accountant in Public Practice, I don’t listen to hyperbole and rhetoric, I look for the facts (that’s why I read Crikey). Hockey, himself stated the repeal of the mining tax was a $6.5 billion hit to budget bottom line but was ‘damn good deal’ for Australians, all the associated measures that aided small business were also repealed except the school kids bonus, and in an unfair hit to retirees, the super guarantee increases were pushed back to 2021. It’s now estimated the repeal of the carbon tax will take $6.931 billion out of the budget in net fiscal terms (this comes from Hansard). On top of this $12 billion will be spent on 58 more next-generation F-35s, including 1.5 billion on a facility at Williamtown. Also the Government gave an unnecessary 8.8 billion one-off grant to the Reserve Bank. Then you’ve got the waste, (Abbott said he would stop the waste) too much to mention here but lets start with a $20 million ad blitz for scholarships not yet approved? That’s at least $35 billion the Abbott Government has added to the debt and you’re blaming it on a Labor and the Green’s “scorched earth Exit”? Please Harry, stick to the facts.

  9. alan austin

    Intriguing comments. Thank you.
    James O, meeting the revenue shortfall could be just a simple matter of getting high income earners to pay their fair share. That should be simple, shouldn’t it?
    Several of your tax suggestions certainly have merit. Maybe not increasing the regressive GST, though.
    Harry S, when you say “the spending that were supported by that tax [carbon tax] were blocked by Labor, Greens, and Palmer”, can you point to a Coalition policy now blocked in the Senate which was not ruled out before the last election?
    Thanks, Harry.
    Happy to discuss. AA

  10. Harry Smith

    Haha if you think you’re going to get “the facts” here free from hyperbole, you’re dreaming.

    The JSF program has bi-partisan support. The purchase was even acknowledged as being worthwhile by independent think-tanks.

    Several billion dollars are held up in the budget stalemate. To pull the deficit figure out and blame Abbott is not acknowledging the full position.

    PS, the ad blitz wouldn’t be necessary if it wasn’t for the exaggerated scaremongering about deregulation that constantly erupts from the apparatchiks.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details