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PM backpedals from 'done all we can' declarat -

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PM backpedals from 'done all we can' declaration

The World Today - Friday, 23 May , 2008 12:11:00

Reporter: Sabra Lane

ELEANOR HALL: The Federal Opposition leader, Brendan Nelson, is ramping up the pressure on the
Prime Minister over his commitment to working families, declaring Kevin Rudd out of touch and out
of ideas only six months into his prime ministership.

The attack was sparked by Mr Rudd's declaration that his Government has done as much as it
physically can to ease the pressure on working families in the face of the rising living costs.

But Dr Nelson says if the Government were serious about easing the pressure on families it could
act immediately to help by cutting the fuel excise.

In Canberra, Sabra Lane reports.

SABRA LANE: Big statements have a tendency of returning to bedevil those who make them. Take John
Howard's verdict in March last year about working families; it was used relentlessly during the
federal election campaign.

(Excerpt from advertisement)

JOHN HOWARD: Working families in Australia have never been better off.

ACTOR: Really, Mr Howard? How can you say that when my childcare and grocery prices are higher than
ever?

(End excerpt)

SABRA LANE: Could Mr Rudd's declaration yesterday that his Government had already done as much as
it could to take the financial pressure off families return to haunt him in the same fashion?

KEVIN RUDD: We have done as much as we physically can to provide additional help to the family
budget, recognising that the cost of everything is still going through the roof; cost of food, cost
of petrol, cost of rents, cost of childcare.

SABRA LANE: Last night, on ABC TV's Q and A program, host Tony Jones challenged the Prime Minister
about his statement.

TONY JONES: Is that one of those things that's going to follow you around for a very long time?

KEVIN RUDD: No, I'm just referring to the Budget we've just delivered. I mean that has to be set
against the economic circumstances of Australia today, the pressures, financial pressures which
families are under today, as well as honouring our pre-election commitments.

Taking all those factors into account, you know, I stand by what I said today.

SABRA LANE: Not only that, Mr Rudd offloaded some of the responsibility for high petrol to his
predecessors.

KEVIN RUDD: Not invading Iraq would have helped.

(Applause)

SABRA LANE: Mr Rudd's statement that he is done all he can is a bold proclamation, given the
current surge in world oil prices and the Coalition's promise to cut fuel excise by five cents a
litre to ease the financial strain on working families.

For the second time in two weeks, QANTAS has lifted its ticket prices in response to the soaring
cost of fuel.

In Sydney and Melbourne this morning, motorists were forking out a small fortune to fill-up their
cars with the cost of standard unleaded petrol cost at $1.60 a litre.

Some commodities analysts believe it could top $2 a litre within two months.

Opposition leader, Brendan Nelson, says Mr Rudd's statement is as good as a white flag and shows Mr
Rudd is out of touch with ordinary Australians.

BRENDAN NELSON: And Mr Rudd, I think, should be ashamed of himself after six months, basically
admitting that he's out of touch and he is out of ideas.

And last year he ran around the country saying to Australians that he would fix groceries, he would
fix petrol and home living costs and interest rates and so on. The one thing that he can control is
the excise on fuel.

We stand for lower taxes and we will implement five cents a litre off which will turn into 5.5
cents at the bowser.

SABRA LANE: On Channel Nine's Today show Mr Rudd ruled out an excise cut.

KEVIN RUDD: But the bottom line is, you take this movement in the last week or two of 15 cents, I
mean Mr Turnbull has spoken about five cents on excise, well that's been consumed it would seem in
a couple of weeks of movements in the global price.

SABRA LANE: And on Fairfax Radio, the Prime Minister was asked why he wouldn't cut fuel excise and
in his answer he already appeared to be backing away from his statement that he'd done all he could
to take the pressure off families.

KEVIN RUDD: If you looked at the movements in the last several days, which have been something in
the order of 10 to 15 cents a litre, as many people including the automobile associations across
the country by and large have said, this would not have a substantial impact.

But we remain always vigilant as a government in terms of how you can look at, into the future,
other measure to assist with the balancing of the overall family budget.

Whether that's being affected by rising fuel prices, rising food prices, rents or mortgage, at the
end of the day it's the dollars that we have in Australian families' pockets that counts. And we're
going to try our best with future measures as well.

SABRA LANE: In Melbourne The World Today's Jane Cowan asked motorists if the Prime Minister was
right in his declaration that his Government had done all it could, and whether Mr Rudd should cut
fuel excise.

MOTORIST: I think there's probably something he could do to help us out, cut taxes or ... I'm not
quite sure what he could do but I'm sure there's something in there.

JANE COWAN: The Prime Minister is saying that he's done everything he can, everything he possibly
can on petrol, do you believe him?

MOTORIST 2: Not really. I don't really. He can do better.

MOTORIST 3: No, I don't. I'm sure there's something he can do.

MOTORIST 4: Oh, I think he's just trying to pass it on to somebody else. He's trying to pass it on
to the petrol companies or something else.

MOTORIST 5: Yeah I think he has, with all things considering. Yes.

MOTORIST 6: Prime Minister, they can't do anything, mate. We are paying the price for the America.
America controls the petrol. We have to pay for the Iraq War, mate.

JANE COWAN: Would you like to see him lower the price of petrol by five cents by cutting the excise
now, like the Opposition says?

MOTORIST 7: Yeah, I think any cut would be good. Five cents would help a lot of people out, I
think.

MOTORIST 8: I think, yes. Yes, definitely. Because too expensive.

JANE COWAN: Do you think it's time that the Government cut the excise?

MOTORIST 9: No.

JANE COWAN: Why not?

MOTORIST 10: I think petrol is too cheap. I think it should be over $2.

ELEANOR HALL: That's one Melbourne motorist in the minority there, ending Sabra Lane's report.