election campaign zeros in on policy costs

Election campaign zeros in on policy costs


Both major parties are under pressure to outline the cost of their promises ahead of the May 18 election, with climate change and tax cuts in the spotlight.

The opposition’s much anticipated costings will be released on Friday, as leader Bill Shorten continues to face pressure over his party’s climate plan.

Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek says the cost of Labor’s 45 per cent emissions reduction policy will be just over $500 million, but admits the impact on the economy is different.

“The impact of Labor’s higher ambition for pollution reduction is the same as the government’s because we allow pollution to be reduced by purchasing offsets from overseas and the government won’t allow that,” she told ABC Radio National on Thursday.

“The cost on business will depend on how they reduce their pollution.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Mr Shorten traded blows in the final leaders’ debate on Wednesday night, but there was no clear winner.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg accused Mr Shorten of being unable to explain his superannuation policy and the impact on housing prices from his changes to negative gearing.

“And there are many unanswered questions about his unprecedented decision to use $10 billion of taxpayers money to subsidise private sector workforce wages,” Mr Frydenberg said of Labor’s plan to top up pay for childcare workers.

“Right across the board, Labor has many, many questions to answer.”

But the treasurer wouldn’t say how much the coalition’s future tax cuts for high-income earners would cost, which left-leaning think tank The Australia Institute estimates at $77 billion.

“All the benefits are laid out particularly in the budget,” he told ABC Radio National.

Mr Shorten will spend Thursday campaigning in Brisbane, while Mr Morrison is spending the day in northern NSW, in the Nationals-held seat of Cowper.

Cowper is under serious threat from independent Rob Oakeshott, who was pivotal in helping Julia Gillard form a minority Labor government in 2010.

The Labor leader will pledge $60 million towards cancer services at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

Mr Shorten is also promising $6.2 million to refurbish Redcliffe Hospital’s intensive care unit and a further $6 million for a second CT scanner.

Redcliffe is in the seat of Petrie, which Liberal MP Luke Howarth holds with a margin of 1.6 per cent.

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