Scott Morrison
Scott Morrison john mccutcheon

Federal debates centres on $67 billion 'black hole'

THE Coalition and Labor traded barbs yesterday over Treasurer Scott Morrison's claims the Opposition would face a potential $67 billion "budget black hole" if it won the July 2 election.

Mr Morrison and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann released figures claiming Labor's election promises and its refusal to bank Coalition savings would send the budget further into the red.

The government's figures include $18 billion in measures Labor has blocked, $30 billion in new spending it has proposed and $35 billion in government cuts the Opposition wants to reverse.

Mr Morrison said that before the Opposition could "spend a cent" on its election promises, it would need to make up for the $18 billion of measures the party had opposed.

Labor has proposed about only $16 billion in savings or changes to tax breaks, such as negative gearing, to make up for about half of its $30 billion promises, but Labor frontbencher Tony Burke said the Coalition's claims were riddled with errors and the government was "lying to the Australian people".

Shadow foreign affairs minister Tanya Plibersek also refuted Mr Morrison's claim Labor would reverse a $19 billion cut to foreign aid, saying the Opposition would fund foreign aid to the tune of $800 million.

But on the government's estimates, that would still leave the Opposition with a $48 billion deficit if it failed to find more savings.

While both parties have promised a foreign aid budget of 0.5% of GDP, neither party has a set a date to reach the target.

Also yesterday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull promised $60 million in black spot funding for new mobile phone towers, on top of the $160 million in the recent budget.

Labor's regional communications spokesman, Stephen Jones, backed the extra funding but said the government's existing program had resulted in only 21 of 499 new mobile phone towers being switched on.


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