THE $4 billion public dental package announced yesterday takes new spending and cost blowouts revealed in the past three weeks to more than $8 billion, but much of the money is spread over future years and the government insists its promise to return the budget to surplus remains intact.

As well as billions extra needed to meet the costs of asylum seeker policies and an impending education announcement, the dental scheme was seized on by the opposition as indicative of a government that is spending wildly to clear the decks for an early election.

”This is a government which knows that it is not going to deliver the promised surplus and this is a government which will do almost anything to avoid the humiliation of having to admit that it can’t be trusted with public money,” the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, said.

But the government rejected the claims, with insiders scoffing at the idea of an early election with the poll numbers so dire.

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SMH: Warning: after boom it’ll be Dutch and go