The government has called on federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to detail how he would fund his mental health initiatives.
Mr Abbott on Thursday unveiled details of the coalition’s new $430 million mental health plan, which takes its total commitment on mental health to almost $2 billion.
He outlined the plan three weeks ahead of the May 10 budget, tipped to contain a major mental health announcement from Labor.
But Finance Minister Penny Wong said: “Tony Abbott … appears to be trying to suggest he can take a credit card approach to public policy, announce a policy and not say where he is going to get the money from.
“The challenge to him is this … as he goes into the budget period, Tony Abbott is going to have to tell the Australian people just where he is going to get the money from to fund the policies
he says should be delivered.”
“Until he does he has no fiscal credibility whatsoever,” Senator Wong told reporters in Adelaide.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Julia Gillard says the coalition’s promises on mental health cannot be trusted.
Ms Gillard on Thursday refused to confirm the government was set to announce its own plan, but said Mr Abbott’s announcement could not be trusted.
“Last time we saw Tony Abbott come out with packages and policies, they came with an $11 billion black hole associated with them,” Ms Gillard told reporters in Tokyo.
What I can say is, anything the government announces in the area of mental health, or indeed any other area, will be properly costed and properly funded.
“That’s a very different approach to Tony Abbott.”