4 August 2014
Transcript - #2014023, 2014

Interview with Marius Benson, ABC NewsRadio

PRESENTER, MARIUS BENSON:

Steve Ciobo good morning.

CIOBO:

Good morning.

BENSON:

The Australian's reporting, David Crowe in The Australian reporting, this morning that you have a new tool in the sales pitch for the Budget which is an inter-generational report showing the impact, I gather, of doing nothing. Can you just tell us about that?

CIOBO:

I'm not sure it's new in the sense that what we're focused on is the same message that we've been making clear to the Australian public since before the election. That is that spending in Australia was unsustainable. That's the reason why we've seen the six biggest Budget deficits in Australia's history. It's the reason why, at the very core of the government's economic action strategy is a plan to get our spending under control, for Australia to live within its means, and to make sure we're not continuing to foist on the next generations of young Australians today's living expenses. Because that's simply unfair.

BENSON:

The criticism that the Budget has not been against the tactics or the strategy that you outlined there but it has been criticized on the basis of not being fair. The Sydney Morning Herald today has some information based on Treasury analysis received under freedom of information. It shows evidence of the Budget not being fair in that low and middle-income earners are hit much harder than high-income earners.

The figures given in The Herald are: lower income households lose $842 a year under this Budget, high-income families just 71.

CIOBO:

Between the tax changes and changes to expenditure, we see that high income earners obviously are paying much more in terms of additional tax and we see that the spending cuts that are required come from those that are more dependent on government support, on taxpayer support.

What's not fair is a situation where we continue to allow future generations of Australians to rack up, up to $25,000 of debt for every man, woman and child, to keep paying for spending, to keep paying with money that we don't have, and then we have to keep borrowing.

BENSON:

Can I just clarify the first part of that point there, are you confirming that in fact low and middle income households are taking the burden much more heavily than high income households because they're the ones who receive the benefits you're cutting.

CIOBO:

What is very clear is that high income households are paying much more in terms of the additional tax measures. There is of course offsets that are taking place as a result of changes to government spending. Obviously, people that rely on more government support will feel those changes.

BENSON:

Just to reiterate that, just to clarify that narrowed point, lower and middle-income households will feel a much greater impact from this Budget than high-income households.

CIOBO:

It's stating the obvious that somebody who receives taxpayer support will notice a change to levels of taxpayer support versus someone who doesn't receive taxpayer support. That's obviously a statement of complete obvious. What is clear though is that it is completely inequitable to allow situation to continue where Australians keep foisting onto future generations the spending for today, the spending using borrowed money because Australia does not have a situation we are living within our means.

BENSON:

This is the end of the age of entitlement declared by Joe Hockey, one of the
people of the Treasurer is meeting today is Senator David Leyonhjelm a crossbencher. He has made a point that is many people have been making which is, if this is the end of the age of entitlement, what are you doing introducing five and a half billion dollars worth of paid parental leave? He says its expensive and bad legislation.

CIOBO:

The simple fact is that when it comes to making sure that we have as many Australians as possible participating in the workforce, as many Australians as possible paying the taxes that are going to fund the types of entitlements that people expect – for example the pension, for example spending on defense, on health and education – we need people to be mobile and active in the labour force.

The way we do that is by engaging, in particular, young mothers who might have just had a child and making sure as much as possible, we can provide a situation where they remain committed and involved in the labour force. That is a central plank of the government's paid parental leave policy.

BENSON:

Will the PPL come in in July next year?

CIOBO:

That is absolutely the government's plan and the government's ambition and there's been no change in that respect at all.

BENSON:

You're staying with that plan?

CIOBO:

Absolutely.

BENSON:

Your own backbench though is in revolt. There are three unnamed MPs in the Fairfax papers today saying the GP seven dollar co-payment shouldn't go ahead. There have been public criticisms of PPL from some members of your backbench. Any review possible on both of those?

CIOBO:

The great thing about the Coalition is that we allow our members to put forward their points of view, to have a conversation about what we think is the best way forward as a nation. It stands in stark contrast to the Labor Party which implies discipline so strong that even people that would dare to look at, for example, changing or challenging a Labor Party policy, are typically thrown out of the Labor Party -

BENSON:

But when your backbench does put forward this point of view, are you intending to ignore them?

CIOBO:

Look, there will always be different points of view that are put forward. That's exactly how a parliament and how a democracy should function. What the government's making clear though, is that we have a clear plan about how to get this nation's finances back on track, how to deal with Labor's debt and deficit disaster.

We cannot continue to go down the path of spending money we don't have. We cannot continue to borrow billions of dollars, putting all of that repayment and interest back on future generations to pay for today's spending.

We are the only party in politics that has a clear plan about how to address this. Everybody else might be doing what is populist, but they are not doing the right thing and they are not making decisions in the national interest.

BENSON:

Steve Ciobo, thanks again.

CIOBO:

Pleasure.