Health cuts no answer to budget deficit, say Greens

The government has pledged to return to surplus in 2012–13 but independent forecaster Deloitte Access Economics has issued a new report suggesting that unexpectedly tough economic conditions would mean a $1.9 billion deficit for that financial year.

Treasurer Wayne Swan responded by repeating his promise, telling ABC Radio this morning that “tough decisions will have to be made” and that he would find savings “elsewhere in the budget” to achieve surplus.

Mr Swan said his government had found $100 billion in savings in previous years.

But Greens leader Bob Brown urged Mr Swan not to panic “just to meet a budget line”.

“Whether it comes in one billion up or one billion down is not going to matter nearly as much as the importance of appearing to have a steady hand on the tiller,” Mr Brown told ABC TV.

He added the Greens would take a “dim view” of any cuts