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Transcript of doorstop interview: 3 May 2012
THE HON JOE HOCKEY MP
DOORSTOP 3 MAY 2012
Another day and another extraordinary announcement from Julia Gillard. It is the death gurgle of a dying government when they make enormous announcements involving tens of billions of dollars and don’t explain to the Australian people where the money is coming from. The Prime Minister’s announcement today that she is committing to $40 billion for 12 new submarines and it is not going to be in the Budget - the $40 billion - illustrates that next week we are going to see the government ‘cook the books’ when it comes to a Budget surplus. That was further confirmed today by the Prime Minister stating that the government is, in an extraordinary move, delaying the Joint Strike Fighter to try and ensure that there is more money in the Budget next year. But, of course, the costs of the Joint Strike Fighter will be further down the track for another government to pay. This follows on from the government’s commitment to roll out a National Disability Insurance Scheme without saying where the $8 billion a year is going to come from, and it follows the previous behaviour of the Government where it announced the National Broadband Network at $32 billion, but refused to put what will be, at least, $50 billion actually in the Budget.
It is the death rattle of a dying government when they make these enormous announcements but don’t say to taxpayers where the money is coming from. Ultimately everyone is going to pay, if the government keeps going on with these big announcements in order to try and sure up Julia Gillard’s flailing leadership then Australian taxpayers are going to have a hell of a hangover when the Gillard government is finished.
Are you saying they should commit to building submarines or not?
The government has said it is committing to building those submarines. Quite frankly, we already have Collins Class submarines, they have been a financial disaster. Certainly the government’s statement that they are going to have another white paper when it was only
three years ago that they had a white paper, they haven’t met the obligations of the current
Defence White Paper and they are papering over the cracks by saying they are bringing forward the next white paper. So, from our perspective, we want to see what the benefit is in actually building these submarines here in Australia, rather than getting cheaper versions from overseas or, perhaps, even fixing the Collins Class submarines that we already have. There hasn’t been a proper analysis of the total impact of this decision. And I find it extraordinary Wayne Swan is out there saying it is going to be a tough budget, Julia Gillard is out there announcing $8 billion dollars a year for the National Disability Scheme but she
won’t say where the money is coming from. $40 billion for 12 new submarines but she won’t say where the money is coming from. They’ve had the announcement of the Gonski Review of Education which can be up to $5 billion a year. Where is all this money coming from? And that’s why it’s the death rattle of a dying government. They are simply making these enormous announcements and they are not explaining to Australians where the money is coming from.
You have questioned whether Australians would support paying for a National Insurance disability Scheme. Tony Abbott supports it, what’s your stand now?
We have said before it is a most worthy scheme to have a National Disability Insurance Scheme, but I say again, there are many worthy schemes but the Government has to explain where the $8 billion a year is coming from. It’s one thing to have a pilot project. It is one thing to commit $200 million to the submarines, it looks as though you are doing something. But at the end of the day the money has to come from somewhere and there is only one pot of money and that is the hard earned taxpayers’ money and that’s it. There is only one pot and the Government is not being truthful unless it puts in the Budget the $8 billion a year for the National Disability Insurance scheme, the $40 billion for the 12 new submarines.
Tasmanian Liberals are concerned that the Coalition is planning changes for the GST formula.
Well they shouldn’t be concerned. Again, this will illustrate the truth or not behind the Government’s Budget numbers next week. You’ve got State Government’s delivering budgets now with significant a reduction in GST revenue yet Wayne Swan is going to predict a massive jump in Commonwealth revenue between this year and next year. The Government is going to cook the books and there’s no doubt about that. They’ll do it on Tuesday night but ultimately Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan won’t be there to have to deliver the Budget. They can promise it, but they won’t be there to deliver it and it will be left to hell of a lot of other people to mop up the mess of the Gillard Government.
Do you believe there is room to cut Defence budget?
I think there is always room to be more prudent with expenditure, but I am quite frankly astounded that just a few days before the Budget the Government seems to find some of these savings and some of these huge announcements. It is a very significant announcement to say the Government is committing to 12 submarines to be built in Australia, when the Collins Class submarine experiment has been unbelievably costly, unbelievably costly. It just smacks of a Government that is breathing a death rattle and we are all paying the price for it.
How should the public treat next week’s Budget?
Well, with the sort of scepticism it deserves. They’re not putting the National Broadband Network in the Budget headline figures, they’re not going to include National Disability Insurance Scheme funding for the full program. They’re not going to include the $40 billion dollars for the submarines for the full program. These are trains coming down the track directly at tax payers and the fact that the Government, is saying on the one hand it’s going to
be a hard Budget but on the other hand they’re saying they’ve got these enormous spending announcements. It sends confused signals to an already confused public.