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SUNDAY, 11 MAY 2014
SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbotts Budget of Broken Promises and Twisted Priorities;
P Ta!; Cuts to "ea#t$; Tony Abbotts Ta! %n&rease; 'ue# E!&ise; Cost of
(i)ing; Cuts to Pensions; Po#iti&ians Pay; *oya# Commissions; %nfrastru&ture
FRAN KELLY: Chris Bowen, welcome to Insiders.
CHRIS BOWEN, SHADOW TREASURER: Thanks, Fran, good morning.
KELLY: Well the Government says, as you heard there, they're going to clean up
your mess on udget night. !o you give the Government marks "or having the guts
to tackle spending ecause all the signs are they're going to go pretty hard at it#
BOWEN: Well what's clear Fran is that this is a Government which is determined to
make cuts that they were always planning to do and they denied during the election
campaign. This goes way eyond roken promises. I think the $ustralian people
are seeing, we have a government that campaigned on a we o" deceit making
commitments they could never meet, promising to return the udget to surplus with
no new ta%es and with no spending cuts over and aove what they announced,
pretending they cared aout cost o" living, "orgetting to mention that they're going to
put petrol ta% up, "or e%ample. &o I think the $ustralian people are entitled to e very
angry with the deceit o" this Government. There's a yawning gap, a yawning gap
etween pre'election rhetoric and post'election reality which has roed them,
roed them o" any moral authority when it comes to the national pulic deate.
KELLY: Well the Treasurer has een addressing that very criticism on Channel (ine
this morning as we've een on'air. )e said that we never said we were never going
to change or alter a ta% and they point to the "act that the paid parental leave
was going to mean some sort o" levy ta% on usiness, "or instance, and asically
they're honouring their pledge ecause ta%es will always e lower under them
than under *aor#
BOWEN: Well Fran I think the determination o" the +rime ,inister and the Treasurer
to deny that these are roken election promises makes it even more insulting to the
$ustralian people. I mean how many times did Tony $ott say no new ta%es# -oe
)ockey said it himsel". It's .uite pathetic to see the Treasurer out there saying well
we told you we were going to increase corporate ta% so you should have worked out
that meant an increase in income ta%. /ou should have worked out that that means
an increase in the petrol ta%. I mean he's insulting the $ustralian people with this
0rwellian denial that these are reaches o" election commitments. Clearly they
are reaches o" election commitments and I think the $ustralian people know that i"
Tony $ott and -oe )ockey had een honest with them at the election and told
them aout these planned ta% rises, told them aout these planned cuts they would
have een a lot less likely to vote "or them and -oe )ockey and Tony $ott knew
it too, that's why they engaged in the we o" deceit.
KELLY: But it happens in politics, doesn't it# *aor made a promise, no caron ta%
under a government I lead. The "ormer +rime ,inister -ulia Gillard said e"ore
the election, a"ter the election changed circumstances according to the then
Government and the promise is roken. It happens. /ou roke a promise.
BOWEN: Well Tony $ott should e held to his own test. )e said that the trust
de"icit was the most important in $ustralia. )e said that he could e held to
every one o" his commitments. )e said that this would e a di""erent government,
one which honours its commitments. Clearly that is 1ust not happening. $ustralian
people are entitled to e very angry when politicians reak election commitments
and they are entitled to e e%tremely angry with this Government which is addicted
to reaking its election promises.
KELLY: It's looking clearer that this de"icit ta% will e something like a 2 per cent ta%
on the highest income racket, people earning over 3456,666 and a poll this week
showed that more than hal" o" those polled support a ta% on the wealthy to pay o""
det. &o are you out o" step with your support ase on this#
BOWEN: Well, I don't think $ustralian people like this increase in ta% one little it
and we don't like it one little it, and we've een reducing marginal ta% rates in
$ustralia since the 4756s when *aor came to o""ice in 4758, the top marginal ta%
rate was 96 per cent. +aul :eating as Treasurer started the process o" reducing
those marginal ta% rates to make us more competitive as a nation in a gloalised
world. That's the direction we should e heading in. &o we'll have a look at
the udget in its totality ut we don't like this proposed de"icit levy one little it.
KELLY: !on't like it, will you vote against it#
BOWEN: Well that's the articulated position, that's the position we;ve taken <
KELLY: That doesn't sound so certain, that;s the articulated position#
BOWEN: That's our position Fran that we don't like this increase in ta%, this
de"icit levy and there"ore we wouldn't e supporting it. That's the position we're
taking. (ow we're not going to 1ump Fran at every it o" udget speculation,
every leak out o" the Cainet room aout what might e in the udget or not. /ou will
get a detailed, considered and thought"ul response to the udget which will e ased
on some principles, the principles o" our analysis o" how proposals compare to
"airness, the impact on udget sustainaility, on participation in the work "orce and
whether it's a reach o" an election commitment. We've een clear aout our
position on the de"icit levy. We don't like it and we don't support it.
KELLY: Can I 1ust e clear though, is it the policy you don't like or the promise,
the roken promise you don't like#
BOWEN: =ither Fran. We don't like governments reaking their promises and we
don't like this policy either.
KELLY: /ou mentioned there the notion o" putting, reintroducing inde%ation
o" petrol. *aor didn't do that in government even though it's a pot o" money most
economists have een saying ever since -ohn )oward "ro>e it ack in 2664 that was
a waste, it should e there. Will you support or oppose a move to reintroduce
inde%ation o" petrol#
BOWEN: Well Fran we don't even know i" there is a move to reinde% the e%cise yet
on petrol.
KELLY: Is it a good idea#
BOWEN: There are reports that there might e a "lat increase in the petrol e%cise,
other reports aout inde%ation. $s I said Fran we're not going to 1ump at every piece
o" speculation. We will look at the udget in its totality, in its detail. We'll assess it
against those measures I mentioned e"ore, "airness, impact on the udget,
participation, election promises and you will get a thought"ul response "rom us. I'm
not going to speculate on all these rumours and what the *aor +arty's position is.
It's up to the Government to make a case and then we will consider it in the light o"
all the evidence we have e"ore us.
KELLY: But you're happy to speculate on some rumours. /ou're happy to speculate
on a G+ co'payment, you;re happy to speculate on the notion o" a de"icit levy, why
not speculate on petrol inde%ation#
BOWEN: Well the "undamentals o" ,edicare are very important to us and a charge
to go to the doctor is a reach o" a "undamental principle "or us that your health
should not e determined y your wealth and that the health o" any one o" us should
e the concern o" all o" us. &o that is a deeply held principle "or us and we will "ight
to de"end ,edicare and to oppose a ta% to go to the doctor with all the energy
we can muster right across the parliament and the nation. But I'm not going to play
the rule in, rule out game. The Government can't even tell us what's in the udget
yet so with all due respect Fran I don't think you can e%pect us to respond to what
may or may not e in the udget ecause we 1ust don't know yet.
KELLY: Well what -oe )ockey has 1ust said this morning, we already knew through
a leak, a pre'udget leak there's aout to e a 346 illion in"rastructure
package unveiled on udget night. (ow the Treasurer says that over the ne%t si%
years 3?6 illion o" "ederal money will e spent on roads and other in"rastructure and
that will e matched y the &tates. That's a pretty ig promise that suggests a lot
o" activity, a lot o" 1os and do you think that people might accept the notion o" a
petrol ta% i" they know they're getting 356 illion in total o" new roads#
BOWEN: Well, let's see what the Government actually delivers, not what they talk
aout delivering. The previous *aor Government increased in"rastructure spending
very dramatically to make us one o" the top per"ormers in the world, we'd een a
laggard. $ll this Government's done is cancel previous *aor government pro1ects
and the ones haven;t cancelled they;ve claimed credit "or. &o i" they're serious aout
in"rastructure well, we'll e on'oard "or that ut we want to see some reality, we
want to see some delivery and we want to see concrete plans and we want to see
In"rastructure $ustralia de"ended. They've guttered In"rastructure $ustralia, they;ve
taken away the re.uirement "or an independent cost ene"it analysis "or ma1or
in"rastructure pro1ects. We;d want to see proper cost ene"it analysis and then the
pro1ects eing uilt.
KELLY: 0n the "ace o" it there's a "ew things in this udget that *aor would like,
that look like the headlines "rom a *aor udget. For instance, 346 illion in cuts to
usiness wel"are, that's something you think you might "ind in a *aor
udget, amongst a "ew other things. !o you support that#
BOWEN: Well again Fran, we'll have a look at the detail ut I would say that the est
way to return a udget to surplus is to have a growing economy and the only way
to have a growing economy is to have usiness with the con"idence to invest. The
only way to have a growing economy is to have usiness working together with
government. &o there are things like the e%port "inance corporation which the
Commission o" $udit recommended dramatic changes to which we'd e very, very
uneasy aout ecause it's aout "acilitating proper investment. (ow again, -oe
)ockey eats his chest and talks aout the age o" entitlement. I" he's "air dinkum
aout that we'll see changes to the Government's proposed e%travagant
paid parental leave scheme, "or e%ample. I" he's proposing other changes "or
support to usiness we'd need to wait and see what that actually entails
e"ore reaching a considered position.
KELLY: Well let me try one more on you and see i" I can coa% you out on this one
ecause he's "air dinkum to the point that we read this morning they're going
to "ree>e politicians' pay rises in the name o" everyone sharing the urden, do you
support that#
BOWEN: Well what's clear Fran is that Tony $ott roken promises are going to
hurt the average $ustralians a whole lot more than any wage "ree>e is going to hurt
himsel". We won't stand in the way o" that. $s you correctly pointed out e"ore, Tony
$ott said that this sort o" thing was a popular stunt, I think he was right the
"irst time.
KELLY: It's a stunt, it's not a good idea#
BOWEN: Well we won't stand in the way o" it. 0viously our energy is going to e
devoted to de"ending the conditions o" average $ustralians, not our own conditions.
I" he wants to engage in a wage "ree>e "or politicians and he;s got the agreement o"
the remuneration triunal as has een reported, that;s something that we wouldn;t
stand in the way o" ut it;s hardly the main game and $ustralians are going to have a
lot more to angry aout. I" he thinks that "ree>ing his salary is going to make
$ustralians "eel etter aout pension cuts, ta% rises and other changes I think he's
kidding himsel".
KELLY: Can we move away "rom the udget, political campaign "und'raising has
een in the headlines this week and it was revealed, as we were 1ust discussing on
the couch, that the Treasurer -oe )ockey gave @I+ audiences to usiness people
and organisations that could a""ord to pay the annual "ee to the (orth &ydney
Forum, up to 322,666 a year. That's a campaign "und'raising vehicle "or his
electorate. $re you critical o" him "or that#
BOWEN: *et me say a couple o" things aout the (orth &ydney Forum. Firstly I
think the important thing is transparency and disclosure. (ow as I understand it
these what are in e""ect donations are not disclosed and I think they should e. I
don't know where this "orum "alls within the law, that's a matter "or others to go
through. But clearly i" the Treasurer is raising money "or his local campaign
and these are, in e""ect, donations, then I think they should e declared and it should
e up"ront and transparent "or everyody. &econdly <
KELLY: !oes *aor play y that rule# I noticed that Bill &horten attended a 38,666
a head *aor "undraiser oard room lunch this week, would each one o" those
people's names e declared#
BOWEN: We more than pay the rules Fran in "act the national secretariat declares
more than there oliged to under the law. The law says that political parties should
declare donations over 342,?66. The national secretariat declares donations over
34,666. We have a very good track record here when it comes to improving
disclosure and transparency. The Government has an appalling track record.
And I just wanted to make one other point Fran briefly about the North
Sydney Forum. I mean last week we had to force a chair of an independent review to
withdraw from attending a North Sydney Forum function in what was a
clear conflation and confusion of the role of an independent government reviewer
and a partisan political fundraiser. We shouldnt have to force those things. !he
!reasurer should have better judgment than to set them up in the first place. If hes
raising money for his local campaign by giving and granting access to lobbyists" to
somebody doing an independent government review" we shouldnt have to point
out that that is just plain wrong. #e should be smart enough and have the judgment
to work it out for himself.
KELLY: $nd 1ust "inally this week in udget week, *aor will also e "acing a "ormer
+rime ,inister :evin Audd making an appearance e"ore the Aoyal Commission to
the home insulation scheme and as I mentioned the Aoyal Commission into union
governance and corruption kicks o"" tomorrow. The name o" another "ormer +rime
,inister -ulia Gillard, will e, "or sure, come to the "ore in the evidence "rom the "irst
witness Aalph Blewitt. (ow as we mentioned -ulia Gillard says she's all in the clear,
this was something she was involved with 26 years ago with &later and Gordon. But
are you worried that these Aoyal Commissions, you're in danger o" crowding out
your udget attack#
BOWEN: Well we wont be distracted from defending the best interests of the
Australian nation" the Australian people by this. $ou know" the %iberal &arty and the
'overnment are determined to play politics including using ta(payers money on
things like )oyal *ommissions. !heyre determined to breach" for e(ample"
++, years- worth of convention about cabinet documents for their own political
purposes. !hey can play those games. Well cooperate with the )oyal *ommissions
and particularly if theres any proper recommendations in relation to workplace
safety" the )oyal *ommission into home insulation is" I think" the .
in.uiry that
we've had into that program. There have een recommendations that have een
made which have all een implemented. &o i" the Government wants to
continue down this road o" politically inspired Aoyal Commissions they can do that
ut we won't e distracted "rom the task at hand.
KELLY: Well we may as well get you on the record here i" and when you get ack
into government will you pledge that you won't play those games# /ou won't start
ordering Aoyal Commissions and opening up cainet documents#
BOWEN: We;ve got a track record here Fran. I mean, there were plenty o" people
who said we should hold a Aoyal Commission into all sort o" elements o" the
)oward Government whether it e Ira. or other matters. We said no, no, we're
interested in the "uture, we're not going to play those sorts o" games. I think that's
the *aor +arty's track record and certainly the approach that we take.
KELLY: Chris Bowen, thank you very much "or 1oining us on Insiders.
BOWEN: $lways nice to talk to you Fran and happy ,other's !ay to all the viewers.

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