Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Opposition Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey says the government is using Treasury as its 'stalking horse' to leak politically convenient data.
And Mr Hockey says it's impossible to know what shape the budget is in, saying it is not within Labor's ''DNA'' to deliver its promised surplus in 2012-13.
Mr Hockey accused the government of being behind a leak to the The Financial Review, which on Thursday reported Treasury is advising the government to dump its plans for a surplus.
It said Treasury had warned that a slump in nominal economic growth poses a threat to revenue.
''The government doesn't hesitate to use the treasury to do its political heavy lifting,'' Mr Hockey said.
''It doesn't hesitate to use the Commonwealth Treasury as its stalking horse. The bottom line is, this government is to the economy what the grim reaper was to safe living. I mean it's seriously a case of a government that is gilding the lily...the government can't bat and it can't bowl.''
In the mid-year budget update released in October, the government forecast a surplus of $1.1 billion for 2012-13.
Asked whether Treasurer Wayne Swan should admit there would be no surplus, Mr Hockey said: ''Well, uh, who knows what the state of the budget is – but the government has to stop playing these games.
''It is clearly organising a conga line of people to come out and say, look the government really doesn't have to deliver a surplus.''
Finance Minister Penny Wong said she did not comment on budget speculation, but pointed to the mid-year end of fiscal year outlook, which put the government on track for its planned 2012-13 surplus.
‘‘I make the point that often budget speculation is not correct, but I would make this point about the surplus, we’ve just handed down a mid-year review which has us on track for a return to surplus. In that, we had to manage some $22 billion of revenue write-down, not as a result of anything the government’s done, but as a result of what’s happening in the global economy and the hit on commodity prices,'' she said.
‘‘We took some $16 billion worth of savings in that mid-year review – a number of which have been opposed by the opposition – in order to ensure that we maintained our fiscal discipline and returned to surplus over the forward estimate period, and I think that shows our commitment to fiscal discipline.’’
– with AAP