Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has avoided saying by how much the budget deteriorated during the second half of 2016, telling a Senate committee it was all clearly presented in the mid-year review.
Under questioning from Labor during a budget estimates hearing in Canberra on Tuesday, Senator Cormann was asked for the total deterioration in the budget over the four-year estimates between the pre-election economic and fiscal outlook released in May and December’s mid-year budget review.
“It’s written on page one,” the minister said, referring to a table which shows individual financial years, but not a cumulative total.
Labor Senator Katy Gallagher said she just wanted the difference in aggregate deficits, to which Senator Cormann encouraged her to deduct one set of figures from the other.
“So you are just not going to tell me that?” Senator Gallagher asked.
“This is not a school class, the information is published very openly and transparently,” Senator Cormann replied.
Senator Gallagher asked the minister if he could confirm the aggregate deficit was around $10 billion.
Senator Cormann said the numbers were all published, reiterating it is “very openly and transparently” in the half-year budget update.
“Is that a yes?” Senator Gallagher asked.
“I’m not going to go around around in circles, the numbers are printed in the mid-year budget update,” he replied.
Taking Senator Cormann’s advice, the aggregate deficit was actually $10.4 billion.
It was only the first set of questions Senator Cormann faced on his primary portfolio.
It looks like being a long day.