25 June 2014
Transcript - #2014016, 2014

Interview with Julie Doyle, Capital Hill, ABC 24

PRESENTER:

Well to talk more about the challenge the Government now faces getting its budget measures through the Parliament, I'm joined in the studio by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer Steve Ciobo. Thanks for coming in.

CIOBO:

Pleasure.

PRESENTER:

Let's start with the Budget. You've got some real problems now, haven't you, looking at measures like the indexation of the fuel tax changes, to pensions, family payments, Newstart, the GP co-payment. You're going to have real difficulties getting any of these through.

CIOBO:

Well what's clear Julie is that the Opposition unfortunately haven't learnt. I mean what's crystal clear is that we've got the Greens, we've got the Labor Party who are all very happy to continue stealing money from the next generation of Australians, to keep putting todays spending on the credit card to be paid off by Australian children over the next 10 or 20 years.

We have put forward a viable plan. We've put forward a plan that's fair. We recognise the budget's tough but it is fair, because it asks everybody to make a contribution to restoring Australia’s economic sustainability.

PRESENTER:

But what are you going to do if you can't get these measures through? What's the plan B?

CIOBO:

Well look, we’re going to keep trying. I mean we have outlaid a plan, we've outlined a plan about what we want to do to get Australia back on track. We can't have –

PRESENTER:

So do you have a backup plan?

CIOBO:

Well our backup plan is to say to the Australian people in a very clear way, the level of spending that the Labor Party and the Greens proposing is unsustainable. We're currently borrowing a billion dollars every single month just to pay the interest on the debt that Labor’s accumulated.

Now it's sure popular for the Labor Party and the Greens to say they're opposed to tax increases, they're opposed to reductions in spending. We get that. We understand that Labor are doing what they think is popular. But that's not the right thing by Australians and it's not the right thing by the next generation of Australians who have to pay all this debt back.

PRESENTER:

But looking at this situation you're facing now where you will struggle to get these measures through, the fuel tax excise for example, reintroducing the indexation of that, if that doesn't get through, which looks like highly unlikely now to get through the Senate, that's $2.2 billion, a massive hole in the budget. What is the government going to do?

CIOBO:

We are seeing that Labor and the Greens are putting nearly $40 billion of spending back into the Budget. They have spending that they want to continue with. They are opposed to excise increases and indexation of the fuel excise. I mean, if you ever said to me that the Greens Party, supposedly a party that cares for the environment would actually oppose the re-indexation of excise on fossil fuels I mean I would've fallen over. But yet they’ve done it. And they've done it for one pure and simple reason, because they're in cahoots with the Labor Party and neither of these parties care about Australia's next generation who have to pay back all of this debt.

PRESENTER:

But realistically though, if you can't get these measures through what is your plan?

CIOBO:

Well our plan is to be frank with the Australian people. They elected us to do a job.

PRESENTER:

So you’ll concede defeat on some of them?

CIOBO:

Absolutely not. They elected us to do a job. The Australian people want us to do several things, to stop the boats. We're achieving that. They wanted us to restore Australia's economic credibility. We are desperately trying to do that.

Bear in mind that we actually have the completely perverse situation, where Labor is now opposing savings that the Labor Party themselves announced. I mean that is how wacky this has become. I mean Labor’s opposing their own savings, the Greens are opposing increases in excise indexation on fossil fuels. I mean this just demonstrates how Bill Shorten and Christine Milne are willing to jeopardise anything in terms of Australia's financial future because they think there's a couple of votes in it.

PRESENTER:

Well looking at what the Government is going to have to do, the independent Senator Nick Xenophon has said today that he thinks there'll have to be a mini budget. Is that a prospect?

CIOBO:

Look Australians will see I have no doubt, the consequences of the reckless approach that the Labor Party and the Greens are taking. I mean make no mistake, this isn't a costless exercise. This is an exercise by the Labor Party and the Greens that is going to see Australia go into more debt to the tune of tens of billions of dollars.

PRESENTER:

But I'll ask you again. How are you going to deal with this? What are you going to do? Would you consider as Nick Xenophon has said, a mini budget or as others have said going back to the drawing board on some of these?

CIOBO:

Well look, we implore the Australian people to recognise that we are trying to do our job. We were elected to restore Australia's economic standing, to get Australia to live within its means. We had the six biggest budget deficits in Australia's history. Labor and the Greens seem hell bent on continuing with that approach. So our simple message to the Australian people is that they need to communicate, that if they want Australia to live within its means, if they don't want us to continue down the slippery slope of debt and deficit, they need to recognise that we need to do some belt tightening now.

PRESENTER:

What about the Senator John Madigan, the DLP senator, another one of the crossbench senators you'll have to deal with. He said last night, "Stop using families as a punching bag. Sit down and talk with the crossbench." Has the government bungled the negotiations here with the crossbench?

CIOBO:

Look we are very willing to sit down and in fact have been doing so. Of course the Prime Minister is sitting down with Clive Palmer in the very near future. But you know the point I would make, if John Madigan and others are so concerned about Australian families, if they think it's so unfair that we are making some changes to for example family tax benefits, why don't they seem to care about the inequality that will arise because today's spending is all being pushed down onto the Aussie kids of today.

Well it's going to be the next generation of Australians that have to pay back all of this spending. I just find it incredible that there are crossbench Senators and the Labor Party who rail about the unfairness, yet seem to not even blink at the prospect of sentencing the next generation of Australians to decades of debt.

PRESENTER:

All right Steve Ciobo, we'll have to leave it there. Thank you very much for coming in.

CIOBO:

Pleasure, thank you.