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Budget 2013: Transcript of interview with Karl Stefanovic and Ross Greenwood: Today, Nine Network: 15 May 2013: Federal Budget



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LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WARRINGAH

15 May 2013

TRANSCRIPT OF THE HON. TONY ABBOTT MHR INTERVIEW WITH KARL STEFANOVIC & ROSS GREENWOOD, TODAY, NINE NETWORK

Subjects: Federal Budget.

E&OE……………………….…………………………………………………………………

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott joins us in Canberra this morning. Thank you for your time.

TONY ABBOTT:

Nice to be with you, Karl.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

I guess you could say literally it’s broke. How are you going to fix it?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, you’re right. Last year the Treasurer said there would be four years of surpluses. No surplus this year. No surplus next year. No surplus the year after that. There will never be an honest surplus under this government.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

So, how are you going to fix it? It’s easy to sit back and say, well, this is what they’ve done wrong and this is what long term we are going to do about it but it’s very hard in the nitty-gritty, in the minutiae of the next couple of years, to work out exactly what you’re going to do to fix it.

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, we will start by being honest. We won't make promises that we don't keep and how many promises were made in last year's Budget that never even survived to this year's Budget? We won't do that and as far as is humanly possible, we won't get things wrong like the carbon tax revenue because we will abolish that. We won't get the mining tax revenue wrong because we will abolish that. And when we say we are going to spend money on things like WestConnex, we will spend it within 12 months of getting in - we won’t spend it in five or six years’ time.

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KARL STEFANOVIC:

Do you reinstate things like the baby bonus?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, we want to carefully look at this Budget. We don't want to have a knee-jerk reaction. That’s what the Government does - they have knee jerk reactions to win a headline. We want to look at it like adults and you will see our response unfold in the Budget Reply response unfold in the Budget Reply tomorrow night and then in Joe Hockey's address to the Press Club next week.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

2016/17 - is that something you would be working towards in terms of a surplus? It is OK to, again, be critical of them - they haven’t had a surplus. But will you return to surplus by 2016/17, guarantee that once you have had a look at the figures?

TONY ABBOTT:

Karl, we want to get back to surplus as quickly as possible because the Government was right last year when they said going back to surplus was a sign of good policy. Unfortunately we haven’t had good policy because we’re not back to surplus so we will get back as quickly as possible, but we do need to study this carefully. It is like an onion - the Budget, you have to peel back every layer and then you’re in a position to say exactly what you’ll do yourself.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

There’s been a lot talked about the so-called age of entitlement being over, that’s been talked about, especially over the last 24 hours. But how do you find the savings when things are so much in the red? How are you going to do that? How will you continue to spend on big-ticket projects when you don't have money to spend?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, we’ve announced a number of very significant savings. We are not going to continue the so-called school kids’ bonus, because that’s a cash splash with borrowed money with nothing to do with education. We are going to reduce by natural attrition the size of the Commonwealth public sector by at least 12,000. Stopping the boats will save something like a $10 billion budget blowout. We are not going ahead with the humanitarian intake because it’s the people smugglers picking those future Australians. Now, there are substantial savings there, and we will have more to say about this in coming weeks.

ROSS GREENWOOD:

I’ve got to say, Tony, one thing is that the first term of government - let's say you are there - one of the thing is it seems as though Australia has a structural problem. We’ve had a blip in terms of trade. All of a sudden we have this hole in the Budget. Are you prepared to really grasp the nettle for genuine change in our tax system, in the industrial relations system in particular, to try to make Australia a more efficient country?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well Ross, tax reform starts with abolishing the carbon tax. That will go. It continues with abolishing the mining tax. That will go. It continues with a modest company tax cut and that’s certainly something that we want to deliver. So, tax reform is very important.

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ROSS GREENWOOD:

But that doesn't make Australia competitive, though. It needs much, much more than that.

TONY ABBOTT:

It helps. These are very substantial steps in the right direction. There's no one single thing that you do to make our country competitive. There are a series of things that you do and there are three that we will do.

ROSS GREENWOOD:

So, would you commit to a tax overhaul once you’re in government?

TONY ABBOTT:

What we said going into the last election is that we would have a comprehensive look at things, provided we got things lower, simpler and fairer. We’ll have more to say about this in the days and weeks and months ahead, Ross.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Tony, we will let you move on. Thanks for your time today. Appreciate it.

TONY ABBOTT:

Thanks so much. Thanks, Karl.

[ends]