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ABC News Breakfast -

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(generated from captions) there. Philip Nitschke there

speaking to our reporter Philip

Williams in the UK. Returning

to the Rudd Government's plan

to slash private health

insurance rebate for middle and

high income earners. The move

is expected to save around $1.9

billion. But the Government

said before the election that

the 30% rebate would stay. Opposition Treasury Spokesman

Joe Hockey joins us from Sydney. Thank you for joining

us. Great pleasure. Now it was

always a very key part of the

Howard Government agenda that

there be this rebate and the

then Opposition said it would

stay. Now we hear reports the

rebate will be phased down for

high income earners. What is

your response? Another broken

promise from Kevin Rudd and it

significantly puts enormous

pressure on the public

hospitals. So effectively it is

a cost shift from individuals

to the State Governments and from the Federal Government

because they are going to have massive increased pressure on

the already-strained public

hospitals. Frankly, this is

short-term policy that will

have long-term pain. Although

you do seem to be blocked at

the other end, if I can put it

that way from, escaping the punishment. From what we

understand in the leaks, if you

drop your private health

insurance, then your Medicare

rebate will increase. So in

effect it is trying to stop us

relying on the public

system? Well, you know, what is

the intebt intent here? The

intent is about raising money.

The fact that Kevin Rudd gave

most people $900 sooner or

later will come home to roost.

They will have tax increases,

Medicare rebate cuts, a whole

range of things. We hear beer

and ciggies are going up. We

hear they will cut back on

funding for IVF mothers. This

is the sort of thing that Labor

does. Why is it under Labor

that we always end up with

bigger debts and higher

taxes? Well, you can't argue

why is it under Labor that we

have a global financial crisis.

That's not of its making? But,

can I touch on that. Every

recession in Australia has been

caused by global events. Every

recession. The issue is how

does a Government handle it?

You can either handle it well,

as we d the Coalition, when the

Asian financial crisis hit,

Australia did not go into

recession, or you can handle it

badly the way Kevin Rudd is and

effectively taking us on a path

of debt and deficit on a scale

that we have not seen since

World War II. There are two different ways to handle

it. Everyone keeps giving the

Government an excuse. The Government gives itself an

excuse. The bottom line is they

are spending like drunken

sailors. Handing out cheques

for $900 was dead wrong and had

a true impact on the budget

because ultimately everyone

will have to pay for it. Before

we return to that, that's a

well traversed territory, it

does seem to me in what you are

saying a bit of inconsistency.

The Opposition has been saying

you cannot build up a massive

debt and have a deficit that

our children and grandchildren

will pay down for the next few

decades. When the Government

tries to find cost-saving

measures because the bottom

line has been hit, as every

Government has been around the

world, then you jump on them

for making those cuts and

savings. You can't vit both

ways? Well, hang on. Why is it about us? It was Kevin Rudd

that said we are keeping all

our promises and now he's breaking one. We're the

Opposition. We are meant to

point it out. Media is meant to

point it out. Didn't he make a

promise not to tink we are private health insurance. Now

not only are you cutting the

rebate, but increasing the

Medicare levy. Surely because

we point it out and because it

is our job to point it out, we

should not be subject to that

criticism. It was whether it is

consistent. You can't ask a

Government... I tell you what

is consistent. We have consistently said that this

Government is spending too much

money. We have consistently

said that this Government is

going to have to increase taxes

and charges to try and pay for

it. Now they are doing it. You

know what, ultimately, there

needs to be proper scrutiny on

this mob. They are playing the

media like a piano. They R on

the one hand they leak to a

working newspaper that they are

going to soak the rich. A Robyn

Hood budget. The next day they

leak to the 'Australian', the

higher end paper, they will

increase the price of beer and

ciggies that they will affect

the every day worker. Somehow

there is scrutiny on us. Hang

on, this mob are out there

playing a song. Ultimately

everyone has to start to hold

them accountable because

ultimately everyone will have

to pay the taxes. Joe Hockey,

do you believe the Australian

Bureau of Statistics when it

says that 27,300 more jobs have recently been created in

Australia? Well, it's a survey.

I mean, I... We can only rely

on it? I agree. I want to

believe it. I want to believe

it's true. I hope it's true. I

really hope that it

continues. But I was minister

for employment when

unemployment was around

4%. Today it is well over

5%. 100,000 more people are

unemployed today than a year

ago. Frankly, I feel for those

people. If anyone has a job in

the last month. Fantastic. I

really hope it continues. Joe