Major party leaders wait to release full cost of promises
AS THE nation waits for the official budget numbers from Treasury, both major party leaders refused to release the full cost of their promises to the Australian people on Monday
Neither Prime Minister Kevin Rudd nor Opposition Leader Tony Abbott were willing to release their party's full policy costings, with both waiting for the Pre-Election Fiscal Outlook, due for release today.
With just 24 days to go until Australia goes to the polls, the pressure on the leaders to tell the public how they will actually pay for their promises continues to grow.
But after an economic statement two weeks ago which confirmed a Federal Budget more than $30 billion in the red, the real work will begin once the new government is sworn in.
The two party leaders were in marginal seats in Sydney and Melbourne on Monday, promising funds for infrastructure and manufacturing in key electorates for an election victory.
Both Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott have also chosen new titles, with Mr Rudd never wanting to be a PM of "a country which never makes things anymore", and Mr Abbott hoping to be known as the "Infrastructure PM".
Mr Rudd, whose government took the unusual step of releasing an economic statement only weeks out from the election, said there were "hard decisions to make".
But promising $35 million for retraining manufacturing workers in electorates like Sydney's Bennelong was not one of them.
Mr Rudd said the policy, and others like it, would be given a "full reconciliation" of the cost on the way through to the election, but made no commitment of when.
His opponent was equally evasive, saying there was "a lot of highly sophisticated econometric work" to be done, still unable to put a figure on the cost of Coalition policy.
Mr Abbott said instead, he wanted to be known as known as someone "like a celebrated previous Coalition Prime Minister who under promised and over delivered".
However, the Opposition Leader did commit to an annual update on infrastructure projects in parliament, a new Coalition initiative that reflects existing commitments through Infrastructure Australia.
He said the annual update on major national projects would ensure "we don't just talk about infrastructure, we actually get it built".