What breathtaking hypocrisy by the Greens Party in refusing to allow the public release of Treasury analysis relating to their policies. Having constantly called for others to ‘let more sunshine into Parliament,’ Greens leader Christine Milne now cloaks herself in the darkness of cabinet confidentiality.
Treasurer Wayne Swan’s agreement to more special treatment of Greens Party policies, further reinforces Australia’s perceptions of their disproportionate influence in Cabinet.
Perhaps Mr Swan won’t reveal the true costs of Greens Party proposals, because Australia would become even more aware of the loopy ideas that Ms Milne and her Senators seek to impose on majority Australia.
Greens back veto on release of costings
By Colin Brinsden, AAP
July 31, 20126:31PM
AUSTRALIAN Greens Leader Christine Milne has backed a Treasury decision to deny the federal opposition access to costings of the minor party’s policies presented to the Labor government cabinet.
The coalition recently made a request under freedom of information (FoI) laws for the release of Greens policy costings but was knocked back by the department, which cited the cabinet-in-confidence exemption clause.
Acting Prime Minister and Treasurer Wayne Swan said the decision was Treasury’s alone, but shadow treasurer Joe Hockey argued it was a legitimate request for documents prepared using taxpayers’ money and should not have been denied.
Senator Milne said on Tuesday the ability of Greens and independents to ask for policies to be costed by Treasury and the Department of Finance was one of the major benefits to emerge under the Labor minority government.
She said the departments had costed a range of Greens policy proposals – from getting rid of the diesel fuel tax rebate to increasing the instant asset tax write-off for small business, and increasing paid parental leave and access to Youth Allowance.
“Those costed policies have all been publicly released,” she told AAP.
“If cabinet, separate to that process, has considered and asked Treasury to cost some of the policies that we have proposed to the government, that is a matter for cabinet.
“But it is reasonable to expect that normal cabinet-in-confidence practices would apply.”
Quizzed on the issue on Tuesday, Mr Swan said it was Treasury that took decisions about the release of material under an FoI request.
“It’s not myself,” he told reporters in Canberra.
“They have done so on this case, and I don’t detail what goes on in cabinet.”
But Mr Hockey believes the treasurer is blocking a legitimate request.
“Wayne Swan constantly lectures the coalition on costings and his government has previously released ad-hoc Treasury and Department of Finance advice on our policies to the media,” he said in a statement.
“Wayne Swan is nothing less than a hypocrite when it comes to consistency and transparency.”
He also said while Mr Swan’s department had previously released Treasury modelling to independent MPs under the FoI act, it appeared the Greens were getting special treatment.
Mr Hockey also questioned why some Greens policies costings were classified as cabinet-in-confidence.
“Clearly the treasurer is admitting that Greens policies now dictate cabinet discussions,” he said.
Senator Milne urged the opposition to make use of the new Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO), which costs the policies of political parties ahead of federal elections.
“During the next election campaign, the Greens will release a fully costed election platform and I once again call on (Opposition Leader) Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey to commit to doing the same.”