Eric Ripper

Eric Ripper

Deputy Premier; Treasurer; Minister for State Development

    Barnett must come clean on policy costs

    18/01/2005 2:30 PM

    Treasurer Eric Ripper says the State Opposition Leader’s admission today that his last two years of ‘position statements’ are in fact policies is more reason to come clean on financial costings.

    Mr Ripper said it was arrogant and unaccountable for Mr Barnett to make policy promises all over the State but not reveal what they cost or how he would pay for them.

    “Mr Barnett has a promise for every person but no plan to pay for them,” the Treasurer said.

    “At last count, his top 100 promises over the last four years had a price tag of about $6.7billion and he makes new promises every day.

    “Today he promised to reinstate the Fremantle Eastern bypass and build the Roe Highway extension to meet it at a cost of $280million. Where is the money coming from?”

    Mr Ripper said Mr Barnett’s financial credibility was on the line.

    “Glib promises and generalisations are no substitute for a published financial plan - released early enough for the public to judge whether they want it,” he said.

    “Mr Barnett’s failure to release such a plan suggests he has a hidden agenda to privatise State services, introduce pokies, slash Government departments or put up taxes and household fees and charges.

    “Mr Barnett must reveal how he will pay the bills, or he must jettison many of his promises. He cannot have it both ways.”

    The Treasurer said Mr Barnett had displayed the same contempt for accountability on financial management as the Court government.

    “Mr Barnett was part of a Cabinet that denied their Budgets were in deficit and claimed the economy was in good shape,” he said.

    “In fact, they delivered five deficits in eight years and presided over a shrinking economy and a collapse in business investment.

    “They had runaway spending, privatised $4.8billion in State services, put up taxes five times, and jeopardised the AAA credit rating - while Mr Barnett was a key member of the Budget committee of Cabinet.”

    “After four years in Opposition, he has not learned his lesson.”

    Mr Ripper said Labor, when in Opposition, released details of its financial plan in March 2000, nearly a year before the 2001 State election.

    It committed to balanced Budgets, maintaining the AAA credit rating, keeping spending growth in check and funding community priorities - without the need for privatisation.

    The Treasurer said financial discipline was the only way to pay for big increases in health, education and police spending and invest in infrastructure to power the economy.

    Treasurer's office: 9222 8788