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Transcript of interview with Sabra Lane: ABC AM: 30 October 2012: Budget surplus; MRRT; asylum seekers

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David Bradbury MP Assistant Treasurer

Minister Assisting for Deregulation

Transcript of interview with Sabra Lane

ABC AM Program

30 October 2012


Topics: Budget surplus, MRRT, Asylum Seekers

HOST: Chief political correspondent Sabra Lane has been speaking to the Assistant Treasurer, David Bradbury.

DAVID BRADBURY: We’re on track, we’ve put our forecasts out there, we stand by them and we’ll be doing everything we can to deliver that surplus.

HOST: Is the government preparing to walk away from this promise given the Prime Minister was twice asked in Parliament yesterday to give a guarantee in Parliament and she didn’t. She talked about a plan and a determination. You’ve just talked about being on track. It’s a simple yes or no. Will you or won’t you deliver a surplus?

BRADBURY: Well, the Prime Minister very clearly referred back to the comments that the Treasurer had made and if you look at what the Treasurer has said, the Treasurer has very clearly said that we look at where we are, and I’m quoting him, we’re still expecting around trend growth, low unemployment and in those circumstances it’s absolutely appropriate to stick with our surplus objective.

In these circumstances, you should be returning the Budget to surplus and we will.

HOST: Ok, so you will. It’s a yes.

BRADBURY: We stand by all of the forecasts and all of the measures that we’ve put in place. Can I make this point, Sabra, that I see Mr Hockey out there suggesting that the government is walking away from a surplus. Well, every time Mr Hockey jumps in front of a microphone, there’s one question that he needs to answer and that is will he and his party support the savings measures that we’ve announced. If we can’t get these sorts of measures through the Parliament then that will be a challenge to the surplus. So I think it’s time for him to stand up and

answer these questions.

HOST: Mr Bradbury, Newspoll today shows that 59 per cent of Australians don’t believe you’ll deliver a surplus and 56 per cent believe it’s a low priority or no priority. Are you inclined to bow to that sentiment?

BRADBURY: I just stated the government’s position, and that is that when you look at the sort of economic indicators that we have, and we are a stand out performer, compare us to any other major advanced economy, as indeed the IMF consistently does, and they reached the conclusion that we are delivering growth at a greater rate in this year and are expected to do so into the next year as well.

HOST: How embarrassing is it that the major mining companies have reportedly paid no Minerals Resource Rent Tax this quarter?

BRADBURY: Well, the important point there was ‘reportedly’. And of course there are plenty of people making contributions to this debate that assume that they seem to know more about where the mining tax has been paid or not than others, certainly…

HOST: Well, you can clear it up once and for all.

BRADBURY: Well, we have consistently said that government cannot be in the business of providing public disclosure of details relating to individual taxpayers that discloses their circumstances. That is the law, that’s not actually some line that we’re trotting out. That goes to the heart of the secrecy provisions that relate

to the way our tax system operates. Now…

HOST: You don’t have to tell us specifically what the companies paid, you can give us a lump sum.

BRADBURY: There are so few companies involved here that once you start getting into this business, you’re running a real risk of being in breach of the provisions that say you cannot disclose information that might go to the circumstances of individual taxpayers. I won’t do that. If Mr Hockey and others believe that somehow we should change the law so that we can get into that business, let them come forward and say that.

HOST: Caucus will reportedly be asked today to back the Immigration Minister, Chris Bowen, by endorsing a plan to strip rights from asylum seekers who reach the Australian mainland by boat. The Minister wants a law in place that effectively excises the entire Australian continent from the migration zone for people arriving by boat. How comfortable are you with that plan?

BRADBURY: Well, I’m not going to speculate on matters that will be debated in the Caucus, but I can make a couple of general observations. The first, obviously, is that the Minister for Immigration will be the person that will be announcing the detail of these sorts of policies, not me. But let’s not forget that there were a series of recommendations that were made as part of the Houston Review and we have said that we will adopt those recommendations. But people should be under no doubt and they should not be mistaken about the fact that we will do what we need to do in order to deter people from hopping on boats, risking their lives, coming across the high seas, to try and seek asylum here.