News National Big budget cuts still to come: Chris Bowen

Big budget cuts still to come: Chris Bowen

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Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen warns the government is softening Australians up for deeper cuts in the May budget.

Treasurer Joe Hockey on Tuesday released the mid-year fiscal and economic outlook, which showed a $47 billion deficit for 2013/14 and gross debt headed towards $667 billion over the decade if it is not brought under control.

Mr Hockey blamed Labor for the state of the books and said “all options are on the table” in terms of making savings to put the budget back into the black in the long term.

Mr Bowen said the treasurer could have outlined the pathway back to a surplus.

“Joe Hockey is softening up the Australian people,” Mr Bowen said.

“He is preparing the ground for deep and brutal cuts come budget time – cuts that will affect all Australians.”

Mr Bowen said $10.2 billion of the $17 billion blow-out in the deficit was due to Abbott government decisions since the September election.

“He might want to accept that he is treasurer of Australia now,” the former Labor treasurer said.

Mr Hockey said earlier this year that the election of an Abbott government would restore business and consumer confidence.

“Well, it’s dipped five per cent already, and based on his performance … I would be concerned about impacts on business and consumer confidence,” Mr Bowen said.