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Minor parties pose new threat to Rudd's stimu -

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Minor parties pose new threat to Rudd's stimulus plans

Broadcast: 06/02/2009

Reporter: Kirrin Mckechnie

The Prime Minister is becoming increasingly frustrated that his $42 billion economic stimulus
package is not getting a simple run through Parliament. Now the minor parties are posing a new
threat - they are seeking more money to assist the unemployed.

Transcript

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Get out of the way - that's Kevin Rudd's message to the leader of the
Opposition.

The Prime Minister is becoming increasingly frustrated that his $42 billion economic stimulus
package isn't getting a simple run through Parliament.

Malcolm Turnbull is sticking by his view that the package is too big, even though he concedes that
such a stance could prove to be unpopular with voters.

And now the minor parties are posing a new threat: they're seeking more money to assist the
unemployed.

From Canberra, Kirrin McKechnie reports.

KIRRIN MCKECHNIE, REPORTER: Testing the mood of the nation.

MALCOLM TURNBULL, OPPOSITION LEADER: So, tell me, what do you think of Kevin's big splurge, the $42
billion?

VOX POP: I reckon you've got to keep it to tax cuts, mate. Keep at 'em.

KIRRIN MCKECHNIE: Malcolm Turnbull took a stroll through a Sydney shopping centre to gauge how the
punters are taking his decision not to back the Government's stimulus plan and they appeared to be
sticking to the script.

VOX POP II: Good to see you holding the Government to account on all that big bucket of money
they've got.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Yeah, well, it's a big bucket of debt.

KIRRIN MCKECHNIE: Yet the Opposition leader is still gearing for a backlash.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: I still believe it will be unpopular. I thought it was gonna be poisonously
unpopular, frankly, and we all felt we were going to get hammered into the ground in the opinion
polls. And we probably will be. But we took this stand because it was right.

KIRRIN MCKECHNIE: But Kevin Rudd has had enough.

KEVIN RUDD, PRIME MINISTER: Get out of the road of the Government getting on with the job of
nation-building and supporting jobs at a time of national economic emergency.

KIRRIN MCKECHNIE: Hosting a forum of business, union and welfare groups in Canberra.

KEVIN RUDD: My single ask of you is to put all hands to the pump.

KIRRIN MCKECHNIE: Kevin Rudd had hoped the legislation governing the stimulus measures would be all
done and dusted by now. But it's looking increasingly likely the crossbench Senators are not going
to let the package pass the Upper House without some amendments of their own.

BOB BROWN, GREENS LEADER: It is not our job to be putting the Government on the rack here. But nor
is it the Government's job to say, "Take it or leave it." We're all mature and sensible enough to
say, "Let's come up with a better result."

KIRRIN MCKECHNIE: Perhaps not.

WAYNE SWAN, TREASURER: If people muck around with this package in the Senate they will delay vital
payments to families.

KIRRIN MCKECHNIE: On that, Centrelink backs the Treasurer up.

FINN PRATT, CENTRELINK: If there are changes made next week, it is quite likely that this will
result in a deferral of our implementation date.

POLITICIAN: By how much?

FINN PRATT : It could easily take up to another month.

KIRRIN MCKECHNIE: But the Family First Senator isn't deterred. He wants $4 billion set aside to
help the unemployed.

STEVE FIELDING, FAMILY FIRST SENATOR: This package, $42 billion, fails those forgotten Australians.
It's demoralising when you lose your job. Then the next thing is, you lose your home.

KIRRIN MCKECHNIE: Demoralising is one word to describe the latest economic assessment from the
Reserve Bank. It's estimating the Australian economy will grow by just a quarter of one per cent in
the year to June, narrowly avoiding a plunge into recession. The RBA also expects unemployment to
soar.

WARREN HOGAN, ANZ BANK: Generally speaking, they're still concerned about the outlook and certainly
have no illusions about how weak the Australian economy's gonna be this year. We know that from
their forecasts where they're expecting growth in the year to June this year to be essentially
zero.

KIRRIN MCKECHNIE: And it appears the series of massive interest rate cuts are over.

WARREN HOGAN : There's probably no more big rate cuts ahead. They're gonna be more moderate, small,
25 or 50 basis point moves from here on in.

KIRRIN MCKECHNIE: Some moderation on the horizon after a week of extremes. Kirrin McKechnie,
Lateline.