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Wayne Swan accuses Joe Hockey of misusing IMF data

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James Massola, Gareth Hutchens

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Question time: where is the problem?

Health spending dominates question time: Labor says it's being cut, the government says it's being increased.

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Wayne Swan has accused the government of launching ''intergenerational warfare'' against under 35s in the budget and savaging pensioners and low income earners, citing new analysis prepared for the former treasurer.

As Prime Minister Tony Abbott rallied Coalition MPs before his 12-day trip to Indonesia, France, Canada and the US, Mr Swan stepped back into the political arena on Tuesday night as he accused the government of selectively using IMF data to trash his economic record as treasurer.

Mr Swan said the government had attempted to perpetrate three tricks on Australians about the economy - that the nation faced an economic crisis, that spending was massively out of control and that debt levels are ''large, unsustainable and rapidly deteriorating''.

The analysis by the parliamentary library found that the government's claim that Australia had the highest increases in forecast real expenditure growth between 2012 and 2018 for IMF advanced countries was not true.

Mr Swan said the government had ''misused IMF data on spending, deficit and debt to justify their savage cuts by brazenly using the respectability and credibility that body brings to the public debate''.

The purpose of this ''trickery'' was ideological, he added, and helped the government to ''wriggle out of their clear commitments - no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to GST and no cuts to ABC or SBS''.

The outcry over the budget's hit on low income earners and pensioners had masked ''the intergenerational warfare'' that would result in ''cuts to Newstart for under 30s, the deregulation of university fees and higher HECS debts for university students''.

Mr Swan also asserted in the speech that Australia's return to surplus timetable was slightly better than the average of other IMF advanced economies.

In the Coalition party room meeting, two Queensland MPs flagged with Mr Abbott that the decision to abolish a seniors supplements of about $800 annually for Gold Card holders,had caused "blowback" in their electorates and that it would be a hard sell.

Mr Abbott said he understood their concerns but said the policy was necessary. He told MPs his government faced "testing times" after the budget but urged them to be "indefatigable, relentless, decent, sympathetic, compassionate but unapologetic".

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was lobbied by WA frontbencher Alannah MacTiernan to reach out to aspirational voters in WA and suggested the party rethink its support for the present mining tax, which is almost certain to be abolished when the new Senate sits.

Mr Shorten said the party had discussed dumping the tax before the half-Senate election in April but that it would now be deferred to the national policy making forums.

In question time, Mr Abbott stepped up his defence of the federal budget as he blamed Labor for six years of deficits.

''We were elected to fix the problem, and fix it we will,'' he said.

''That is why this budget reduces projected maximum debt by almost $300 billion.

''We will take the projected deficit in 2017-18 from about $30 billion to under $3 billion within sight of surplus.''

Mr Hockey dismissed Mr Swan's critique of the budget as misleading but relied on the same IMF graphs that the parliamentary library analysis had called into question.

"I have compared Australia to other IMF profiled advanced economies, as is clear and evident in the IMF Article IV Assessment, February 2014,'' he said.

"Mr Swan got the numbers wrong in government and he continues to get them wrong in opposition."

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98 comments

  • hahah swanny talking numbers. Swanny you promised 3 surpluses and delivered none. furthermore when you promised a deficit you failed to achieve that figure. Your form as treasurer and delivering a budget was woeful. Lets introduce a mining tax and carbon that fails to raise revenue but dedicates massive spending commitments. Lets put 80billion dollars of spending over the forward estimates without any funding arrangements in place. Your form is pathetic the proof is in the budgets you delivered. Not one budget was delivered as predicted. Regardless of deficit or surplus, you failed in every area by fudging figures, offsetting spending, and introducing policies that failed to deliver.

    Commenter
    phil
    Date and time
    June 04, 2014, 7:18AM
    • Phil - and don't forget the taxes that didn't and the sledgehammer hits that weren't.

      Swan doesn't have to remind us by popping his head up from time to time - we remember him every month when we pay the $1 billion interest bill - the Swan legacy.

      Commenter
      Hacka
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      June 04, 2014, 7:35AM
    • AAA credit rating during the GFC, stable society and growing economy. Worlds best treasurer etc...
      I think people would prefer a budget form Wayne swan than hockey.
      Hockey's austerity budget, full of lies and out to destroy the equality of opportunity - results in low consumer confidence that makes our problems worse
      The LNP are follow the Greek model on how to get out of a crisis.

      Commenter
      Tadd
      Date and time
      June 04, 2014, 7:39AM
    • LONDON, 20/09/11: Australia’s deputy prime minister Wayne Swan is today named as Euromoney’s Finance Minister of the Year 2011. Swan receives his award for his careful stewardship of Australia’s finances and economic performance both during and since the global financial crisis. Throughout that time, Australia has not only avoided falling into recession but has been the best performing of the world’s developed market economies. That performance was confirmed in the second quarter of this year, with Australia’s GDP numbers showing an impressive growth of 1.2%. Australia’s position within the global financial community has never been stronger than it is today., Swan has succeeded in getting most of the important decisions right. These include putting in place an exit strategy for the stimulus and sticking to it, imposing a fiscal discipline that many other finance ministers refuse to adopt.

      Commenter
      David Hill
      Date and time
      June 04, 2014, 7:40AM
    • and Hacka, who are we paying this interest to, maybe you, or at least those you defend, so why the whinge when you actually may be a beneficiary, are you really a socialist who cares for the Aussie battlers?

      Commenter
      Martin
      Date and time
      June 04, 2014, 7:45AM
    • Phil,
      Swan reduced expenditure to a point where a surplus was possible but the surplus never eventuated due to unexpected drops in revenue. Sort of like when your Christmas bonus doesn't arrive and the money you thought you would have for the holidays is no longer there.
      If you understood the mining industry and the mining super profits tax you would understand that during the construction phase money is spent and there are no profits. That construction phase is coming to an end now. Once the construction phase ends and production starts the profits roll in big time. Well that phase is just about to start and if left alone the mining super profit tax will be a huge win fall for Australia. The reality is the investment has already been made by the miners so they are hardly going to walk away when production is just coming on line so why in the world would we remove the tax now? Stupidest thing I have ever heard.
      As far as accurate numbers go just tell us one number that has been produced by Hockey that has been verified by any non-partisan economic expert? Come on just one number?

      Commenter
      MA
      Date and time
      June 04, 2014, 7:53AM
    • The LNP propaganda machine is up early as usual today.

      Give me Swan over Hockey any day. Swan is right, the Coalition are waging a massive intergenerational and class war to benefit powerful vested interests. Labor was trying to maintain a fair go for all.

      Commenter
      JJ
      Date and time
      June 04, 2014, 7:59AM
    • Martin - interest goes mainly overseas, but isn't it ironic that the interest on bonds that stays here goes to the institutions, and those reserved a special place in Swan's heart - the rich. Those that have worked hard and smart, made a few bucks and are able to invest back in their country.

      As for Swan's comments about the under 35's - well who has given them the debt they have to service in the first place ? Can't see too many bond holders amongst them. Goodness me.

      Commenter
      Hacka
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      June 04, 2014, 8:15AM
    • I live in a nice country with a bunch of ideological idiots trying to dismantle it for the benefit of the corporate sector. Swan wasn't perfect but relatively speaking compared to Joe and Tony he was a genius for getting us through the GFC with relatively small debt, I just wish he got rid of more of Howard's middle class welfare programs.

      No one has ever told me who owns government debt and how the interest is paid, since every country is in debt there must be a big bank hidden somewhere, or possibly bonds? The budget emergency is crap.

      Commenter
      Bruce
      Date and time
      June 04, 2014, 8:19AM
    • Hacka.....they could have used the 9 billion they gave to the reserve bank to buy back all the gov bonds, and then they would'nt have any interest to pay......

      Commenter
      Togg
      Date and time
      June 04, 2014, 8:54AM

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