Coalition shies away from the devil in the details
"The Coalition's tax cuts might in fact turn out to be the one's we've already got, rewrapped and regifted." Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
JOE HOCKEY has begun the process of explaining that the Coalition cannot, in fact, be all things to all people. But only in the most gentle and generalised of ways.
For those who have puzzled at how Tony Abbott could possibly defend existing payments to the aspirational middle class and cut personal taxes and cut company taxes and abolish the mining tax and abolish the carbon tax and pay for his parental leave scheme and the national disability scheme and possibly a nanny rebate, Hockey's answer was, if you listened carefully, they can't.
The Coalition's tax cuts might in fact turn out to be the ones we've already got, rewrapped and regifted because they won't be part of a compensation package for the carbon tax.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme might not be funded at all for some time, because ''you have to live within your means''. Alternatively, it might be funded through a new tax, if that is what Labor negotiates with the states.
And Abbott has also suggested the increases to family payments announced in the budget, which the Coalition is supporting in Parliament, could be pared back after the carbon tax is repealed.
There are many other things he has yet to explain, including whether he is committed to manufacturing industry subsidies, or whether he will put any new constraints on foreign agricultural investments.
Like everything else this will be revealed ''in good time before the next election''.
And above all else the Coalition is not making the mistake of putting a figure on the billions of dollars it has to save to make its sums add up, nor is it identifying where cuts will be made - except to repeat the promise that it will get rid of another 12,000 public servants through ''natural attrition''.
Oppositions don't usually release costings 18 months before polling day, but Hockey wouldn't promise to release his full costings any sooner than the Thursday before the election, which is leaving it a little bit tight. And although he promises they will be ''fully costed and verified'', it remains unclear by whom.
But the scandals besetting the Gillard government mean he is under less pressure than ever to explain the detail of its plans.
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