18 May 2014
Transcript - #2014011, 2014

Doorstop interview, Brisbane

SUBJECTS: Budget; State Premiers

CIOBO:

We saw today from Labor's Shadow Treasurer that the Labor Party's priorities as a result of this Budget are for Australia to continue to remain in more debt and more deficit. It's clear from the Labor Party that they are more about the politics than they are more about the people. The clearest example was this morning, when pressed repeatedly Labor's Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen refused to reinstate payments that he claimed were going to put the states in a worse position. Now this just highlights – audio problems – so in that respect we've got one clear message for the Labor Party: they need to stop living in denial, they need to stop having warped priorities that are actually about increasing debt and deficit. We know that Labor has nearly $40 billion of spending that they want to put back into the Budget; that's $20 billion of savings they are currently blocking in the Senate and another $18.5 billion of structural savings that we announced in the Budget, both of them they want to reinstate. And the Australia people have a clear choice; between the Coalition with a pathway back to sustainability and a pathway back to an economic surplus or the Labor Party's failed approach which is a continuation of more debt and more deficit. Happy to take any questions.

JOURNALIST:

How do you feel about the protests around the country today against the Abbott Government's Budget?

CIOBO:

Look there's no doubt that this was a tough Budget. We're not surprised to see that there are elements of the Australian population that are concerned about the fact that this had to be a tough Budget. But let's be clear about one thing: the reason this Budget is so tough is because of the sheer economic devastation that was left by Labor. When Labor leaves Australia in a situation where we are forced to borrow a $1 billion every single month, just to pay the interest on the debt they left behind, that is what forces us to make tough choices. And it's clear Labor hasn't learnt. Labor continues, and made clear this morning through Chris Bowen, to have an agenda and a warped sense of priorities that's for more debt and more deficit and say nothing needs to change.

JOURNALIST:

Do you think Queensland got ripped off in the Federal Budget?

CIOBO:

The states in net terms are in a better position as a consequence of the Budget. So I don't really understand why State Premiers would be having emergency meetings and saying that they're going to be in a worse situation when the clear reality is this: in net terms states are better off as a result of the Federal Coalition Budget. What's more, we're actually delivering in full over the forward estimates on our commitments in terms of health and education. What's even more than that, we're actually putting $1.2 billion of additional spending, more than Labor, into the education budget over the forward estimates as well.

JOURNALIST:

The Premieres don't think they're better off.

CIOBO:

Well look, the Premiers have got a job to do, a number of them in an election cycle, a number of them taking a point of view that they want to take and I understand that. But you can't argue with the facts, and the facts are this: that the states are better off in net terms as a result of this Budget, we're are putting more money into health and education over the forward estimates than Labor was going to do and most importantly we are putting a record package into infrastructure and I don't hear any of the Premiers complaining about that.

JOURNALIST:

Are you willing to negotiate with the states about the timing and magnitude?

CIOBO:

I think its important State Premiers understand that they are in net terms going to be better off as a result of this years Federal Budget over the forward estimates. And it's important they are frank with the Australian people and their constituents in their state and recognise that these tough choices we had to make in this years Budget are a direct consequence of Labor's spending and the fact they had such warped priorities, with respect to debt and deficit, over the last six years. If we weren't borrowing over a $1 billion a month to pay the interest just on the debt that Labor left behind we wouldn't have to make the kind of tough choices that we've had to make.

JOURNALIST:

So are State Premieres, are they lying or twisting the truth or do they just not understand?

CIOBO:

Well look State Premiers have got a job to do. State Premiers are of course, for many of them in an election cycle and the lead up to an election cycle so we understand why some of them might be taking the positions that they're taking. But the key point is this: in net terms State Premiers are better off. The Coalition is putting more money into health and education than Labor was going to. The Federal Coalition is delivering in full on all of our commitments over the forward estimates and we have the largest infrastructure package that's ever been rolled out across the country. So I think that State Premiers if they are going to be fair need to acknowledge all those pluses.

JOURNALIST:

So if State Premiers are taking that position, are you saying they're taking it for political gain?

CIOBO:

What I'm saying is that if State Premiers are going to be fair with their constituents they need to highlight a lot of the pluses that flow from the Federal Budget, including the fact the states, in net terms, are in a better position and they've got the biggest infrastructure package that this nation has seen.

JOURNALIST:

The State Government has encouraged constituents to ring you and air their grievances. What are you going to say if you receive calls from constituents complaining?

CIOBO:

You know the best inoculation is to speak the truth and the truth is we are providing, in net terms, more money to the states; we're delivering in full on all our commitments; we're putting extra money into health and education and I think that is a great inoculation.

JOURNALIST:

Did you see this coming? The stoush between State and Federal Government?

CIOBO:

Well look, State Premiers have a job to do, they're at different points of the election cycle and we understand why they're doing what they're doing.

JOURNALIST:

Have you had any angry phone calls about the Budget?

CIOBO:

Obviously there are elements of the Australian community that are upset. The point that I'd reinforce to all Australians though is that this was a tough Budget, but it was a fair Budget. And importantly we wouldn't have to make these tough calls if Australia wasn't borrowing $1 billion a month to pay the interest back on the debt that Labor left behind. This tough Budget is a consequence of Labor's spending recklessness. Now we didn't create the debt, but we are going to take responsibility to solve it and I'm upset, of course, there are people that would seek to make political hay from this when frankly what they should be doing is speaking the truth and the truth is states are better off. And what's more, when it comes to the Labor Party they themselves will not commit to spending the money; even though they've got nearly $40 billion of savings measures that they're opposing because Labor's priorities are for Australia to continue to have more debt and more deficit.

JOURNALIST:

If enough people call local LNP members to complain, will people power change the Commonwealth Government's mind?

CIOBO:

The Commonwealth Government is making it very clear that we believe the way forward is to live within our means. We believe the way forward is to make smaller changes now then to continue down the pathway Labor had us; with more debt and more deficit which would require much more painful and bigger changes down the track. So Labor and Bill Shorten can promise to be all things to all people with their magic pudding approach but the consequence of that is that Labor has got nearly $40 billion of increased debt and deficit that they want to put back into the Budget at very the time the Coalition is trying to put us back on a pathway of economic sustainability. Alright, I'll leave it at that.