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(generated from captions) are finding their voice! That's right. Good to see you, thanks

so much. You're welcome. The

Federal Opposition says Prime

Minister Kevin Rudd's admission

that Australia is heading for a recession is a distraction

tactic. Yesterday, Mr Rudd said

it's inevitable a Australia

will slide into a recession. The opposition says

the timing of the announcement

is intended to deflect

attention from the asylum

seeker issue, currently

dominating public debate. The

opposition finance spokeswoman

Senator Helen Coonan joins us

now from Sydney. Good morning.

Good morning, how are you? Not

too pad, thanks. Kevin Rudd has

finally conceded a recession is

inevitable. You want him to

release data. What data

specifically do you want him to

release? Well, the fact is

that Mr Rudd and the Treasurer

and other ministers have dodged

around this issue of what the

true position of the Australian

economy is now for weeks. And

it is incumbent upon them to

tell us what revised forecasts

or what data they're relying on

in order to reach the

conclusion that Australia

inevitably will slide into a

recession. But the GDP figure

won't be released until June.

Why is it important to release

these other figures that you're

talking of now? Well, those

figures are updated pretty much

all the time. That is, various

data upon which this conclusion

should be based. And obviously,

the Prime Minister is not moorl

relying on just the GDP

figures. He's relying on some

kind of forecasts. He might

even be relying on projections

but we simply don't know and

it's incumbent upon the government to actually come

clean. They talk about being clean, being upfront with the

Australian people, but we

certainly are not seeing it

with the way in which they

handle data. The same thing

happened, for example, with the

deficit. There was first of all

denial, then there was oh well

possibly we will go into

deficit and then finally,

dragged kicking and screaming

to making an admission. So the

same thing happens with the

recession. People on the

unemployment queues and people

who need this particular

information to be able to make

judgments about when the

economy can recover, what the

government can do about it,

need to know this

information. What does this

concession indicate about the

stimulus packages? Well, what

it clearly shows is that the

enormous cash splashes haven't

worked the way the government

thought they would and we know now that it hasn't, for

example, created jobs or staved

off unemployment and it's not

going to stave off an inevitable recession as the Prime Minister has now

conceded. And what we've got of

course is that we've spent the

country's war chest for no immediate assistance. In other

words, no immediate gain. And

Australian from debt and long-term damage to every

deficit into the future. So

attention is now turning to the

budget which is only three

weeks away. Are you advocating

furs tax cuts then? --

further tax cuts then? We want

to see what in fact budget

talks about. We know there have

been some tax cuts in the

budget. We had advocated that

the tax cuts that are already

provisioned for should've been

brought forward earlier as a

much or effective stimulus than

just indiscriminate cash splash

with nothing long term to show

for it. So we'll see what the

budget in fact shows when those

ultimate figures are released

in May. But if the cash splash hasn't worked, would you

suggest that a greater tax cuts

in the budget could work in

terms of stimulating the

economy now, which is what's

needed? Well, you always need

to be very careful about the

composition of any stimulus.

And what we have suggested is a

much more constructive way of

allowing provisions for small

business, enabling of stimulus

that will help small business

with employment to maintain

jobs and to create new jobs for

the economy to be much more

fuktive. We've come forward

with a --

productive. We've come forward

with a set of proposals whereby

business will pay less tax. There will be other relief for

business relating to

obligations to pay

superannuation guarantee for

targeted and businesses and for

limited times. That's the sort

of stimulus that would if0 been

much more effective in terms of encouraging productive rather than just mindless consumption. The government's

going to be facing some pretty

tough decisions in relation to

the budget. Would you suggest

that the Newstart unemployment

benefit should be left as is

and not increased? I think

we're not going to be

speculating about what exactly

the composition of the budget

will be. We know that the

government has got a lot of

information at its disposal

that we simply don't have. It's

commissioned reviews. What we

have in fact supported is that

there should be an increase in

the pension and in fact we were

the ones who dragged the

government kicking and

screaming to make provision for

pensioners late last year. So

we think that the focus of the

budget - that the budget will

have in the long term will

depend upon what information

the government has at its Des

poll yaw about it certainly

should be looking at measures to make the economy more

productive, to grow jobs and we

want to see a detailed plan for

recovery. Is this going to be a

deep recession? When can we expect recovery? And what plan

does the government have in

place to get the country back

on its feet and to get people

back to work? Just finally -

this issue seems to be dividing

your party at the moment. Where

do you stand on temporary

protection visas for asylum

seekers? That's not the

coalition's policy. It's under consideration. We'll discuss

it. But Malcolm Turnbull said

yesterday it should be high on

the agenda. Well, what he has

in fact said is that we'll

discuss it. And that's what

we'll do. But the most

important thing we want to know

is: what exactly went on with

that tragedy out there near

Ashmore Reef? The government

has got a lot of information at

its disposal. It's had a

report. It knows, for example,

whether or not people on that

boat were told that they were under escort to Christmas

Island. Now, that doesn't have

to wait for a final report on

the causes of all of the

problems. What we need to know

is what the government now

knows. They have got a report

and they should be coming clean

with it. Hopefully we'll hear

your policy details on the

issue shortly as well. Senator

Coonan in Sydney, thanks very