Rudd backfires

News.com.au reports:

TWO of ’s most senior public servants have undermined Labor claims of a $10 billion black hole in Tony Abbott’s election costings, prompting Joe Hockey to call “a liar”.

In a dramatic and highly unusual move, the heads of Treasury and Finance issued a statement to distance themselves from claims the Coalition had a major financial hole in their election costings.

The intervention, just over a week from polling day, was welcomed by the Opposition, which has been under pressure to provide full details of its election costings, amid Labor claims of a major black hole.

Treasury head Martin Parkinson and Finance chief David Tune, in a joint statement, forced the Government on the defensive just hours after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd had publicly accused the Coalition of a $10 billion “fraud”. …

Dr Parkinson and Mr Tune, both of whom were at a secretaries’ retreat in Canberra when the PM made the attack on the Coalition, undermined the Government’s central claims.

“These costings were not prepared under the election costings commitments’ process outlined in the Charter of Budget Honesty Act 1998,” they said.

“At no stage prior to the caretaker period has either department costed Opposition policies.”

This is highly unusual, to have the Treasury Secretary contradict the Prime Minister. But good on them for protecting the neutrality of the public service.

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