At a tactical political level one important issue arises from the provisions of Clause 29 of the “Charter of Budget Honesty”, under which either party may request costings of their election programs from the Departments of Finance and Treasury. Obviously Labor will come under pressure to seek such a costing, pressure to which Kim Beazley succumbed last time around.
Although it’s hard to predict the politics in advance, Labor would probably be better advised to get an independent costing from a consultancy like Access Economics before issuing its policies. Government pressure to submit policies to Treasury and Finance could be the occasion for an attack on the politicisation of the Public Service.
fn1. Just after I wrote this, I read an interesting story in the Fin, regarding large-scale illegal downloading of information from the computers at Access, much of it allegedly ending up in the hands of rival consulting outfit ACIL. An apparent target of the exercise was to determine whether Access was costing Labor’s promises, and, if so, to get hold of the costings. (Thanks to reader John Warburton for alerting me to this).