Media Release

Joe Hockey interview with Michael Rowland

TRANSCRIPT

The Hon JOE HOCKEY MP

SHADOW TREASURER

ABC NEWS 24 BREAKFAST

INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL ROWLAND

WEDNESDAY 11 MAY 2011

E&OE…………………………………………………………………………………

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

Mr Hockey, good morning.

JOE HOCKEY:

Good morning Michael.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

The Coalition has been calling for cuts now for some time. You'd have to be pretty happy with the $22 billion headline figure of cuts?

JOE HOCKEY:

It might be a good headline but they're spending $19 billion of that money. In the next year alone they are spending $2.5 billion more than they're saving. This is a mirage and it's more spin from the Government. I must say it is a confused Budget, Michael. It's confused and it's directionless. They're cutting $2.7 billion out of defence, but they're spending $1.7 billion just managing the boats that are coming to our shores. They are cutting $2 billion out of families but they are spending an extra $6 billion on foreign aid. It seems confused the priorities appear to be wrong at this moment.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

If you are claiming the Government has copped out on spending, where are the targets? What should they have cut?

JOE HOCKEY:

The public service in Canberra has increased by over 20,000 employees since this Government was elected. In fact, in this year alone, 1100 new public servants are going to be employed in the bureaucracy, more than 250 of them in Julia Gillard's and Wayne Swan's departments alone. If you want to start with cuts we have said we will cut 12,000 public servants out of Canberra. That is the starting point. You have to start making these sorts decisions about cut cutting your Budget rather than cutting family budgets and small businesses budgets.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

Wouldn't that be a hit on 12,000 Australian families?

JOE HOCKEY:

You have to make hard decisions and this Government instead is penalising nearly 2 million Australian families. It is penalising over 2 million Australian small businesses. Michael, the Government is claiming to deliver a surplus in two years time but the Budget deficit this year is at a record level, the Budget deficit next year was meant to be $12 billion, it is now $22 billion. The Government is spending $18 million a day on interest alone for the next four years on their debt.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

Having had a look at the Budget last night and this morning now and some of the detail which wasn't immediately to hand last night when you appeared on 7:30, what measures would the Coalition, on first flush, oppose?

JOE HOCKEY:

We will want to see the details. I can tell you, the Government is like an onion, every time you look at it, it looks like one thing but you have to peel it away. We will have a good look at all of the initiatives but I would say to you that it is completely out of touch with what Australians are going through. First time in eight years there's no tax cuts, and yet the Government is introducing new taxes - the mining tax, the flood tax - and as interest rates go up, as prices go up, there is no relief at all for Australian families out of this Budget.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

As Shadow Treasurer, the Budget aside, you would be well aware of the details of items like the dependent spouse tax rebate and the practice of income splitting between parents and children. They are both either going to be axed or would back in this Budget. Is that something the Coalition would support?

JOE HOCKEY:

I will say that we will be sensible; we will take a sensible approach. I would want to consult with colleagues and with the community to find out what the impact is of these measures being rewound. I would say to you, Michael, if a Government is going to make hard decisions it has to start in its own back yard. The Government is giving $10 million to the unions to set up a new website. They're spending tens of millions of dollars more on new advertising companies - such as on the carbon tax, on a range of initiatives such as the welfare to work initiatives. These are things that have to be cut first.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

We saw last night that the Government effectively highlighted the family income figure of $150,000 as what it deems to be high income or wealthy in term of the family tax benefit and the baby bonus being phased out. Do you as a Coalition agree with that definition?

JOE HOCKEY:

No, and I would say to you that the cuts to family payments can apply to families earning $45,000 a year as well. What they're doing is they're freezing the family tax benefit supplement - as far as we can see in the Budget papers, and we have to peel it back, as far as we can see - that can apply to a family earning $45,000 a year. It is having part of the family payment frozen at a time when cost of living is increasing substantially. Let us just see as we get through the detail of what this Government's intentions really are but they seem completely out of touch.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

Your basic criticism is that it is a Budget built on a house of cards, but looking at a 4% economic growth figure next financial year, the jobless rate eventually falling to 4.5%, pretty strong cards and a pretty robust foundation.

JOE HOCKEY:

But the Budget is built on a house of cards.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

The economic figures are quite rosy.

JOE HOCKEY:

Economic growth is improving next year, but the Budget deficit is getting bigger. Unemployment is falling but the number of jobs created is actually slowing. If there is a 4% fall, just 4%, in the terms of trade it wipes out this claim entirely that the Government is going to have a surplus and bear in mind that that surplus completely ignores the carbon tax that the Government is going to announce in just a few days.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

Is that surplus in 2012-13 achievable?

JOE HOCKEY:

If it was a responsible government, it would be achievable but this Government, I believe, will struggle to deliver a surplus.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:

Joe Hockey in Canberra. Thank you for your time this morning.

JOE HOCKEY:

Thanks very much Michael.