Post Budget Reply chat with Mark Parton - Transcript & Audio

Andrew Leigh MP
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister
Member for Fraser
17 May 2013

TOPICS:                The Budget.

Mark Parton:     Andrew Leigh is the federal member for Fraser for the Australian Labor Party, he joins us on the line now. Hello Andrew.

Andrew Leigh: G’day Mark. How are you?

Mark Parton:     Excellent, I did have a chuckle this morning. I was half asleep when I got in and I read on the email from you think Tony Abbott should have said in the budget response.

Andrew Leigh: Well, we figured we’d have a bit of fun with imaging what Tony Abbott would’ve said last night if he was being upfront and honest with Australia.

Mark Parton:     See I think he is being quite upfront and honest, and I think that many of the worries that people in Labor and Labor supporters had about Tony Abbott, they’re starting to believe are not going to come to fruition. Of course one of the big dramas that we’re going to have is that Canberra’s going to get smashed, isn’t it?

Andrew Leigh: Well Mark, regardless of what you think is deep inside Tony Abbott’s head, I think the simple arithmetic means that he is going to have to cut to the bone. And that’s fundamentally because you can’t mathematically raise spending, cut taxes and pay down the debt faster, which is essentially what Mr Abbott promised he would do last night.

Mark Parton:     What if it works out the Joe Hockey is just a much better big-picture money manager?

Andrew Leigh: If Joe Hockey has a magic pudding, then that’s great.

Mark Parton:     I’m not talking about a magic pudding, I’m just talking about examining programs that aren’t important to a lot of Australians – cutting them, saving money in those areas.

Andrew Leigh: Mark, my general view of public policy is that if you think there are massive hollow logs around the place stuffed with cash, then you’re simply not a serious player in the game. Making cuts in the federal budget is an expensive thing to do, and a painful thing to do. Mr Abbot spoke last night about some of the household assistance that he would cut back, but he’s got to make swingeing cuts in order to fill his fiscal crater. Tax cuts to big miners and big polluters – they’re expensive tax cuts.

Mark Parton:     The really fascinating one to me is that the carbon tax is going to be scrapped, but all of the benefits from the carbon tax – and when I say benefits I don’t mean saving the planet, I mean the benefits to ordinary households – are somehow going to stay. Now it’s difficult to get your head around that as a regular Joe in the street, and sort of say ‘hey, now how can that work?’

Andrew Leigh: Exactly, and this is the sort of magic pudding economics that was on display last night: wanting to promise all things to all people, but being unwilling to say where it’s actually going to come from. We know that 20, 000 public service jobs cuts in Canberra are just a small part of what he needs to do in order to make the budget balance.

Mark Parton:     How long do you think it’ll be before the Direct Action plan to battle climate change gets scrapped?

Andrew Leigh: I think that’s probably first on the cutting board, were Tony Abbott to win office. The problem they have with that is the Grattan Institute puts it as a $100 billion program which is a third of the federal budget.

Mark Parton:     It’s a big lie, isn’t it? I mean, it’s only been put on the table so they’ve got something to say ‘this is how we’re going to deal with it’. It’s never going to happen.

Andrew Leigh: That’s right, and the reason is that soil magic doesn’t work. If you want to reduce pollution, the best way to do it is to put a price on it. And we’ve seen the effects of the carbon price already.  We’ve seen a 9% reduction in electricity emissions and that’s just the innovation of the market that you engender with a carbon price; electricity generators finding smarter ways to produce electricity cleaner. You’ll see that right across the economy – if you back the ingenuity of business, which a carbon price does, you get emissions reductions.

Mark Parton:     We’ve got a minute until news, Alistair’s just SMS’d us and said ‘I’d like to know if Andrew is going to pay for parking in Parliament House’, and he says ‘Andrew supports a $2 500 pay cut for public servants who work in the parliamentary triangle’.

Andrew Leigh: My response to Alistair would be, as we spoke about the other day Mark, Questacon has turned away 23 000 visitors every year as the result of people not being able to find a car park. I think that if you’re going to have national institutions working well, paid parking eventually had to be a part of the solution. Gai Brodtmann has got some concerns around amenities, I think they’re important ones, and if pay parking comes to the House I’ll pay my share like everyone else.

Mark Parton:     Right, so in essence you are supporting a $2 500 pay cut for public servants working in the parliamentary triangle?

Andrew Leigh: Mark, we’ve seen solid wage growth for public servants, as they deserve, they work hard. But the free parking in parliamentary triangle has turned it into a shemozzle for visitors and for workers.

Mark Parton:     I’m with you Andrew, on that particular issue. Thanks for coming on this morning.

Andrew Leigh: Thank you Mark, appreciate it.

Podcast of 2CC Breakfast With Mark Parton

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.