The Greens running the country - how much do their ideas cost and why won't Labor let you know?
Do you remember a bit of a kerfuffle late last year about Greens policy costings. Recall Craig Emerson saying that the Treasury had costed Liberal policy promises and that those should be released, but that the Greens policies shouldn't?
Looks like we might find out about The Greens loopy ideas and how much they cost soon. Hope so. Fancy the chutzpah of the government and its department in trying to say that they are Cabinet in Confidence. The Greens in the Cabinet, oh yeah, I forgot!
Greens costs may be revealed
- by: David Crowe, National affairs editor
- From:The Australian
- January 16, 201312:00AM
TREASURY could be forced to reveal its secret cost estimates for Greens proposals as the Freedom of Information Commissioner counters the department's claim that the documents are subject to cabinet confidentiality.
The commissioner, James Popple, has questioned claims that the documents should be withheld from the public, telling the department he wants to see the costings so he can test its assurances.
The decision is a win for Liberal MP Jamie Briggs in his attempt to uncover the cost estimates after 10 months of wrangling with Treasury over Freedom of Information laws.
While Treasury claimed the documents were exempt from release because they involved cabinet deliberations, the commissioner was not satisfied the law had been correctly applied with some of the documents. "As a result, we have asked Treasury to provide copies of these exempt documents and the FOI Commissioner will consider them for himself," Mr Briggs was told by the commissioner's staff on Monday.
Greens leader Christine Milne insisted yesterday the party was releasing its policy costings and she challenged the Coalition to do the same, while the government said it was up to the department -- not ministers -- to interpret the FOI law.
But Mr Briggs said taxpayers should be able to see the budget implications of the Greens' proposals.
"Every step of the way Treasury has tried to run interference to try to prevent the release of the Greens costings," he said.
"This seems to be a desperate attempt to cover up the Greens costing for reasons that only the Labor government knows."
Mr Briggs noted that Treasury had consulted the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet over his request. "I'm surprised that this goes all the way to the top of the government and there seems to have been a co-ordinated approach to preventing the release of the documents," he said.
Although Treasury initially told Mr Briggs there were 12 sets of documents relating to his request, it emerged last November that there were 14 sets.
The Greens have released several policies costed by Treasury, including plans for paid parental leave and the taxation of superannuation. One source suggested that if any documents were yet to be released they could be cost estimates prepared at the government's request and considered by cabinet as potential Labor policies.
"The Greens have already released a number of costed policies and we will continue to do so to provide a fully costed policy platform before the election," Senator Milne said. "I challenge the Coalition to do the same."A spokesman for Finance Minister Penny Wong said: "It's truly remarkable that the opposition are so obsessed with everyone else's costings but refuse to get their own policies costed," he said.
It's worth having a read of Joe Hockey's letter from late last year.