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Govt and Opposition argue over Budget strateg -

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Reporter: Alexandra Kirk

PETER CAVE: The Federal Government leaked so much of its Budget in the past few weeks that today
debate has already descended into an argument about political strategy - for example, why the
Treasurer omitted the big deficit figure from his Budget speech.

The argy bargy doesn't end there. The Opposition says the Government talked tough but it hasn't
delivered and its forecasts for economic recovery are shaky.

The Government has hit back, accusing the Coalition of attacking the integrity of Treasury
officials.

As Alexandra Kirk reports from Canberra, there's hardly any mention of the actual Budget
announcements.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: It's the first day after the Budget and the argument is well under way - firstly
over the fact that the Treasurer didn't utter the deficit figure in his speech.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: So horrifying is that deficit that the Treasurer last night could not bring
himself to utter the words.

I mean there has never been a Treasurer's speech on Budget night where the Treasurer has not said
what the Budget result is.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Today he got there - just.

INTERVIEWER: And Treasurer, you didn't say the deficit number in the speech last night. Are you
scared of saying it out loud?

WAYNE SWAN: No, I'm not scared of saying the deficit number.

INTERVIEWER: Want to say it now. What's the deficit?

WAYNE SWAN: And we outlined it in great detail last night and it is 57.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: That's $57-billion.

Then there's the size of the deficits and debt. For the Opposition small is beautiful.

JOE HOCKEY: I tell you what I commit to. As Liberals have committed to this before, we will deliver
budgets with less debt, less deficit and more jobs.

KEVIN RUDD: We are looking at the worst set of global economic circumstances since the Great
Depression. We are in unique times. These are unique challenges.

You can either stand back and allow a full visitation of this global economic storm onto the
Australian economy or you can act and intervene and our strategy is clear.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: The issue is not deficit or no deficit. It is the scale of the deficit and you
see this is the problem with Mr Rudd. Everything is dumbed down for his spin, it is all about spin.

So he wants us to agree that if there is going to be any deficit then he is at liberty to have the
biggest deficit in Australia's history which is exactly what he has delivered.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Opposition, like some commentators, is sceptical of the Budget's forecast of a
rapid recovery starting in 2011 including the former treasurer, Peter Costello.

PETER COSTELLO: The fiscal position is telling you that the contraction is going to be much, much
greater but it is, I think, a Budget of spin. What they've tried to do is they have tried to spin
the forecast to try and fit the story rather than fit actuality.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Prime Minister calls it Budget hoo haa but that hasn't deterred MPs from giving
their verdict, starting with the Coalition.

ALBY SCHULTZ: The worst Budget in the history of this country and delivered by a slick snake-oil
salesman and an incompetent Treasurer.

STUART ROBERT: Well, what a cowardly performance we have seen from the nation's Treasurer - a
speech rick in hyperbole but lacking in core detail.

SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, this Budget is as soft as butter. This is a Budget that leaves the hard
decisions until later.

BARNABY JOYCE: This is a classic case of the person with a major heart complication being given a
panadol and a cup of cold water. There is nothing in this. It is a gutless Budget. They haven't
grasped the nettle.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: There's one disappointed Labor MP who's willing to say so - Julia Irwin from
western Sydney.

JULIA IRWIN: The concern that I have within my electorate of Fowler, in January we hit an
unemployment level of 11 per cent. I am a bit disappointed as a Labor member that there wasn't much
in the Budget for the unemployed.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: She has some ideas of her own.

JULIA IRWIN: I'll save that for that briefing with Wayne this afternoon.

REPORTER: Should there have been an increase in the unemployment rate?

JULIA IRWIN: I would have liked to have seen a little bit more in, you know, benefit for the
unemployed. We are looking at one million people, you know, over the next probably 12 months and I
just would have liked to have seen something given to them. Thank you.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Independent Senator Nick Xenophon, whose support the Government may need to get
some of its Budget measures through Parliament, is less than impressed.

NICK XENOPHON: Well, it is a case of buy now, pay later. It is a case where the Government says
this deficit is only temporary even though we will be debt for a very long time. I'm thinking of
asking Kevin if I could move into a spare room in The Lodge and it will just be temporary - six
years or so.

I really think that this Budget has missed a number of opportunities.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: He's already wanting an inquiry into the cuts to the private health insurance
rebate and Greens leader Bob Brown wants to talk to the Government about a better deal for sole
parents and the unemployed.

The Prime Minister says it's really important the Budget's delivered in its entirety. But no one's
making any promises just yet.

Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey, for starters.

JOE HOCKEY: We're going to be very responsible in our approach to it.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Mr Hockey's knocked together his own version of the Budget.

JOE HOCKEY: This is the real Rudd Budget, I'm Joe Hockey.

Labor has lost control of Australia's public finances.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: And posted it on the internet, complete with graphs and calculations.

JOE HOCKEY: Labor is betting that the economy rebounds into a massive and unprecedented boom. This
is casino economics. Mr Rudd doesn't talk about working families anymore because they aren't able
to find the work and they may not be able to pay the bills.

It's the Labor way - big spending, big taxing.

PETER CAVE: The shadow treasurer Joe Hockey recorded off the internet there.