Said arguments against budget decisions aimed at reducing deficit were too often based on "vague notions" of fairness rather than evidence: Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson. Photo: James Alcock
Friction over the federal budget continues before next week's sitting of the new Senate.
Top public servants and opposition figures have traded jibes, and incoming crossbenchers show no signs of breaking the impasse.
Labor frontbencher Jim Chalmers criticised Treasury secretary Martin Parkinson over his public defence of the budget suggesting that the top public servant did not know how welfare cuts would affect those on lower incomes, because of the circles he moved in.
"He wouldn't understand or spend time with a lot of people who are impacted": Labor frontbencher Jim Chalmers said of Dr Parkinson. Photo: Glenn Hunt
Dr Parkinson had said arguments against budget decisions aimed at reducing the deficit, were too often based on ''vague notions'' of fairness, rather than evidence.
''I would say the Treasury secretary wouldn't mix with the kind of people who are affected by this budget, who are asked to do the heaviest lifting,'' Dr Chalmers said of Dr Parkinson, with whom he once worked. ''He wouldn't understand or spend time with a lot of people who are impacted.''
Dr Parkinson was recently revealed to have dined socially with the parliament's two richest men, Clive Palmer and Malcolm Turnbull.
"It may take more than one occasion to get through": Treasurer Joe Hockey said on the budget policies. Photo: Glenn Hunt
Reserve Bank Governor, Glenn Stevens also appeared to weigh in on the government's side suggesting the budget's spending cuts and revenue measures were less extreme than was being claimed, and branding the timing of budget savings measures, ''broadly sensible''.
Addressing the Australasian Meeting of the International Econometric Society in Hobart, he said it was ''unlikely that the budget would have a major impact on the economy in an immediate sense.
''Over the next couple of years, the estimated impact of the budget is not very different from what we had previously been assuming, and the extent of fiscal contraction … is actually not particularly large when compared with past episodes,'' he said.
''The federal budget seems unlikely materially to change the near-term outlook.''
But he said beyond that period, ''the measures in the budget will result in a more significant consolidation than earlier assumed''.
''It was over that more medium-term horizon that the Commonwealth's finances, left unattended, looked like they were going to start going more seriously off course, so the timing of the intended consolidation seems broadly sensible.''
Treasurer Joe Hockey said the government remained committed to the budget measures.
''It may take more than one occasion to get things through,'' he said in Melbourne.
''But we will not waver in our determination to get the best policies through the Parliament to deliver the growth and jobs agenda that Australia sorely needs.''
Consumers have already voted with their wallets. Confidence is down 8 per cent and May retail spending dropped by 0.5 per cent.
Later, Dr Chalmers sought to re-focus criticism on the government rather than its advisers.
''I was asked about Dr Parkinson's comments on the budget,'' he said. ''The obvious point I made is that the nature of the Treasury secretary's job is such that he wouldn't mix with the people most adversely affected by this unfair budget.
''For that reason, he wouldn't understand that these are not 'vague notions of fairness' but real impacts on real people in real communities.''