WEDNESDAY, 13 MAY 2015
SUBJECT/S: Budget 2015
GARY ADSHEAD: I'm here with Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer. Thanks for your time, Andrew.
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER ANDREW LEIGH: Pleasure, Gary.
ADSHEAD: Alright now look: looking at the Budget, it's about fairness they say. They're calling it about fairness and encouraging people to have a go. Are you going to get on board with this one?
LEIGH: Look, I think there are two ways in which you can view the Budget. You can firstly put Tony Abbott's own test to it. He said that under a Coalition Government debt would be down, taxes would be down, spending would be down. Under all of those tests, the Budget has gone in the opposite direction. Double the deficit since last year and the highest tax and spending levels under this Government that we've seen. But the other way, as you say, is the fairness test and investment in the future. There, I worry that Western Australia has had $8 billion ripped out of schools and hospitals. There’s no investment in science and research which will underpin the job growth of the future. So the long-run plan really seems to be missing from the Budget.
ADSHEAD: There's no doubt they got it horribly wrong last year and it was pretty easy for the Opposition to chew them up on it. But this time, with what we've seen, is it a case of them being damned if they do and damned if they don't when it comes to savings measures and cuts?
LEIGH: Well it’s true to say there are things in the Budget that Labor would support, such as IT systems for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Bringing back our approach on small business taxes is also to be welcomed. But overall the Budget doesn't invest in the future and it doesn't make fair savings. So it still costs low income families up to $6000 while not doing anything to tackle multinational taxation. Labor had a $2 billion plan to tackle multinational taxation, the Coalition's measures in the Budget are one-60th of that. So they're really not taking these issues seriously.
ADSHEAD: So the sticking point primarily, will it be the Paid Parental Leave issue? Obviously some of the crossbenchers in the Senate have already said they don't support this notion that people should lose the ability, as the Government put it, to double dip when it comes to Paid Parental Leave. Where is Labor on that?
LEIGH: Joe Hockey talks about double dipping but I think Australian mums see it is double crossing. They feel that they negotiated employment schemes with their bosses in good faith which worked under the assumption they'd be able to draw the government payment and then top that up using what they get from their employers. The idea that we ought to be ripping money away from pregnant mums and taking money away from families when the kids turn six in order to fund a childcare package is deeply wrong. We ought to be able to make those investments right across the spectrum, as you could do if you were taking on an issue like high-income superannuation expenditures which Labor has proposed dealing with.
ADSHEAD: Alright, the Budget Reply for Labor, are we going to see some ideas that will reign in some of the spending that clearly this Government has just abandoned trying to do to try and save its skin in some way? Or is it just going to be an attack on what Mr Hockey has come down with?
LEIGH: The job of an opposition is to critique but also to build. One of the things that I've always felt we need to do in opposition is to focus on a positive plan. You've seen some of that with our proposals around youth unemployment, domestic violence, multination tax and superannuation. You'll see more of that from Bill on Thursday night. Ultimately, people don't want their politicians to be squabbling, they want them to be coming up with good ideas for the future. And so Bill Shorten will be outlining a positive plan as well as a critique.
ASHEAD: Alright, Mr Hockey is continuing to say that the debt problem, the deficit problem was one of Labor's making, they're finding it harder to undo, perhaps, than they first imagined. What do you say to that? Where would we be if we were still with Labor now?
LEIGH: Well the books that Mr Hockey inherited when he came to office had us returning to surplus.
ASHEAD: Well the iron ore price has probably had an impact on that?
LEIGH: No one denies that there's been an impact from the iron ore price but I don't think anyone denies either that Mr Hockey has hit confidence by constantly talking down the economy. That has had an adverse impact on the Budget. So we'll be laying out our plan to return to surplus but make no mistake, Mr Hockey said that he would have debt back under control and he's got debt and deficits rising dramatically. Even compared to his own numbers, this year's deficit is twice as big as what he said it would be in last year's Budget.
ASHEAD: Alright Andrew, thank you very much for your time today.
LEIGH: Thank you, Gary.
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