The Age interview with Ted Baillieu starts well, which is not surprising since Melbourne’s broadsheet is clearly something of a fan.
STAMP duty on home purchases would be cut and thousands of small businesses could become exempt from payroll tax under a Coalition plan to trump John Brumby’s economic credentials.
That all sounds rather decisive and leadershipy. Hurrah!
But dig deeper and the following lines stand out:
Mr Baillieu foreshadowed cuts to stamp duty but said they would have to be fiscally responsible because ”I don’t want to see a situation where you’re making a marginal adjustment and having no effect”.
Hmm. Eight days out from an election, this seems a little late for foreshadowing, but he is probably just being coy because he has a huge, detailed policy he doesn’t want to let out of the bag. Fair enough. But how about this:
Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu is looking at options to lift payroll tax thresholds to free up small businesses from what he calls a ”tax on jobs”. But The Age understands no final decision has been on made on whether such a move can be afforded.
I beg your pardon? A week tomorrow, Ted Baillieu is going to ask Victorians to place their trust in him as Premier and guardian of the state’s finances and he hasn’t done the sums on his tax policy yet?
If that does not set alarm bells ringing in every corner of Victoria, I don’t know what will.
Another eye-raising quote comes at the end of the interview when the heretofore invisible shadow Treasurer, Kim Wells, weighs in on the question of containing costs on infrastructure projects.
Mr Wells told The Age the Coalition would guard against future cost blowouts on major infrastructure projects by submitting all of them to rigorous scrutiny by the Department of Treasury and Finance for public evaluation.
Seriously. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
The Victorian people are being asked to make this man Treasurer, and his Party government. He is saying the Victorian people can have confidence in his ability to manage big projects because he will give Treasury officials the job of overseeing budgets and guarding against cost blow-outs. The same — the very bloody same — Treasury officials to whom his Party refuses, every single day of the campaign, to submit their election promises for costings because they are not a suitably rigorous agency.
This is a flailing and failing political party. This Age interview, designed as a puff piece, should be enough to put them (and us) out of their (and our) misery.