“I am not Santa Claus,” the Treasurer said today, backing his denial with a barely concealed grumpiness.
Mr McCormack, filling in as PM while Malcolm Turnbull is overseas for 10 days, had told The Daily Telegraph the Budget would be “Christmas in May”.
No so, the Treasurer said on ABC radio, keen to discourage anyone from thinking the May 8 statement would be a bag of goodies.
“This Budget will be a responsible Budget,” he said. “I am not Santa Claus, it won’t be Christmas in May.”
However, he doesn’t want to seem too mean: “But, you know, I don’t intend to be the Grinch either when it comes to these things.
“What we will have is what we have always produced and that is a responsible Budget with measures the country can afford.
“They’re about investing in a stronger economy and that is investing in middle-income Australians, it is investing in infrastructure and it is investing in the services that Australians rely on but you can’t rely on those services if you are not building a stronger economy and you can’t have a stronger economy if you are going to tax it within an inch of its life, which is what the Labor Party are going to do and force Australians to pay more.”
The Acting PM’s overreach and the Treasurer’s response were too tempting for shadow treasurer Chris Bowen.
“Today the Acting Prime Minister and Treasurer couldn’t agree when Christmas was and who was playing Santa Claus,” Mr Bowen said.
“And let’s be frank, SloMo is no Santa Claus, having managed to pursue: increases in income tax for millions of working and middle income Australians, axing the Energy Supplement for two million Australians including 400,000 age pensioners, and an increase in the pension age to 70.”
Mr Morrison could only explain Mr McCormack’s Santa snafu as a case of over excitement.
“He was enthusiastic about the important investments that have been made in infrastructure but I’m sure he would agree with me that our Budget will be one that lives within its means and focus on a stronger economy to deliver those essential services,” he told reporters.
“It will be a budget that will work again to deliver a stronger economy that we are growing — record jobs growth — to ensure that we can make the investments in the infrastructure that the Acting Prime Minister has pointed to.”