Given how far behind the government is starting, it probably makes sense to lead off the campaign with what has to be its biggest promise, tax cuts costing $34 billion over three years. As I recall, the spending promises already announced total about $9 billion a year, so its hard to imagine that there can be much left in reserve.
Although there’s nothing wrong with announcing a program for an entire term of government, it’s unusual in relation to tax cuts, and I can recall (perhaps with error) at least two instances of such cuts being promised and then taken back. One was Paul Keating’s L-A-W tax cuts in 1993, which (as implied) were actually legislated in an attempt to increase their credibility. The other was the “Fistful of Dollars” tax cut of 1977 (so named for the ads which showed precisely that) promised by the Fraser-Lynch team going into the election and then (if my fading memory serves) taken back by Lynch’s newly-appointed replacement. Now what was his name again?
The obvious question is, how should Labor respond? Now that the government has presented the headline figure of $34 billion, there’s plenty of room for some combination of tax cuts and increased public expenditure, and plenty of time to refine the details. I’ll follow the same plan, and take some time to think.