Transcript

Tony Abbott transcript - Doorstop Interview, Salt Creek SA

Subjects: Budget; the Coalition’s paid parental leave scheme; GST; Julia Gillard’s carbon tax; same-sex marriage.

 

EO&E...........................................................................................................................................

 

TONY ABBOTT:

Today, we have got more excuses from the government. The Prime Minister coming out saying that there was a $12 billion shortfall in the revenue. More excuses for more failures. This is a government which is just incapable of getting its budget right. I think the Australian public waking up to these reports in the papers and on the radio will just be saying "here we go again." Here we go again, a government which is making yet more excuses for yet more failure when it comes to getting our budgetary situation right.

They say that there's a $12 billion shortfall in the revenue. They don't have a revenue problem. They have a spending problem. If you look at the overall situation, sure spending is up, $100 billion almost since 2007, and revenue is up $70 billion since 2007.  So, this government doesn't have a revenue problem, it simply has a spending problem. Even if you look at the figures that are apparently going to be released today, there is something like a seven per cent increase in the revenue this year on last year. With a seven per cent increase in the revenue this year on last year, there is no way that the government should be setting us up now for yet another big deficit in the current financial year.

 

QUESTION:

There is, though, a structural deficit that will continue if you are made Prime Minister in September which will of course become your problem. Is it incumbent on you to reveal sooner rather than later where you would make savings because the government says you'll cut to the bone?

 

TONY ABBOTT:

What we will do is get economic growth up by getting unnecessary new taxes eliminated and getting red tape down. If we can get red tape down, if we can bring the workplace relations pendulum back to the sensible centre. If we get rid of the carbon tax, get rid of the mining tax, all of which are acting as a drag on our economy, we'll get economic growth up and that will certainly help with this revenue problem that the government likes to talk about. Let's actually look at the reality behind the spin from this government and the reality is that since the mid-year economic statement late last year, the iron ore prices and the coal prices that Australia gets have actually increased. So, if there is a revenue problem now, it's because of the over optimistic forecasts that this government was indulging in until as late as the end of last year.

 

QUESTION:

Is it time, though, to re-think the paid parental leave scheme that you have on the table?

 

TONY ABBOTT:

The interesting thing about our policies is that all of them will be fully funded. They'll be fully costed. They'll be fully funded. The only people that are interested in unveiling massive new spending programmes that are almost completely unfunded is the current government. That's their problem. Every day we have the government saying there's a revenue problem and every day they're announcing multi-billion-dollar new spending programmes. Is it any wonder that this government has a problem when the spending is certain and the revenue is uncertain?

 

QUESTION:

If the revenue is uncertain, your spending on the paid parental leave scheme for example, is certain?

 

TONY ABBOTT:

Our paid parental leave scheme will be fully funded. It is important that we have a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme. It is important that we put this economic reform in place because paid parental leave, it will boost participation, it will boost productivity. Every small business in the country will be massively better off. If we are fair dinkum about paid parental leave, it’s got to be a workplace entitlement, not a welfare entitlement, paid at people’s real wage but as I said, our paid parental leave scheme is fully funded.

 

QUESTION:

Steve Ciobo said this morning that the Prime Minister’s a bit like an alcoholic because she apologises but then continues on with bad behaviour. He was referring to spending. Is that an appropriate analogy to make?

 

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, it was colourful language, colourful language which I probably wouldn’t use myself but I think everyone knows that this is a government which has been spending like a drunken sailor and the fact of the matter is, we have to be upfront about the fact that you will never see a surplus, you will never see fiscal responsibility, from this government. When this government first went into deficit, they said it was a temporary deficit. Well, we’re coming up for the fifth year of a temporary deficit and there are deficits stretching out as far as the eye can see. So plainly, their understanding of the word temporary and the ordinary understanding of the word are quite different.

 

QUESTION:

With deficits stretching out so far, is it time to start thinking about the GST? Changes to that, possibly?

 

TONY ABBOTT:

The point that needs to be made about the GST is that the GST is a tax where all of the revenue goes to the states. Absolutely nothing can happen to the GST unless all the states agree. Now, I want to say very clearly to the people of Australia, particularly the people of South Australia and Tasmania, there will be no change whatsoever to the GST unless all the states agree.

 

QUESTION:

And will you still offer tax cuts without the carbon tax?

 

TONY ABBOTT:

We’ve consistently said that we will fund tax cuts and benefit increases without a carbon tax because we will fund tax cuts and benefit increases from sensible savings in unnecessary and wasteful government expenditure.

 

QUESTION:

You can guarantee that the tax cuts that you have spoken about in the past, that that still stands even though the Budget is looking much more shaky?

 

TONY ABBOTT:

What I can guarantee is that without a carbon tax, but with a large measure of the compensation that was put in place for a carbon tax, people will be much better off.

 

QUESTION:

Just on gay marriage, the independents are calling for a referendum at the election in September. Is that something that you would support or welcome?

 

TONY ABBOTT:

As far as is humanly possible, I think the coming election should be uncomplicated by other matters. I think that the government and now the independents will want to muddy the waters with other things but the election in September should be a referendum on the carbon tax; it should be a referendum on the current government. Do you really want three more years of this? That’s what the election will be all about. Do the people of Australia, do you really want three more years of this?

 

QUESTION:

So you wouldn’t support such a referendum?

 

TONY ABBOTT:

If there’s ever to be a plebiscite on this subject it should be held quite separate from a federal election.

Thank you.