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Transcript of doorstop interview: 5 September 2012



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JOE HOCKEY:

Well the Australia Bureau of Statistics has today released the National Accounts for the June quarter. What it shows is that there has been a slowing of the Australian economy in the last three months of the previous financial year. It also shows that the worst possible time to introduce a carbon tax and a mining tax was the first of July this year. The fact is you do not introduce new taxes when the economy is slowing, and you don’t go down the path of making it harder and not easier for Australian businesses. All the indicators at the moment are trending in the wrong direction and exactly at this time the Government is making life harder and not easier by making huge unfunded announcements of in excess of $120 billion over the last few weeks on the back of slowing commodity prices, dropping revenues and lower profits. This is a Government that doesn’t know how to manage the economy. How you could possibly be in the businesses of spending more money and taxing more at this point of time is just beyond me, but this Government has managed to do it. Wayne Swan needs to give confidence to Australian businesses now and start explaining how his Government is going to pay for his $120 billion big Budget black hole and how he is going to start to account - in addition to that - for the slowing commodity prices and the impact on revenue.

JOURNALIST:

The Treasurer says these last figures are stunning, do you agree with that?

JOE HOCKEY:

Well the more Wayne Swan talks up these headline numbers, the more Australian businesses get angry because their profits are coming down, confidence is dropping and the fact is the Government is imposing new taxes. This is a look in the rear vision mirror, it is not a look at the future and if you

look at the future all you can see is dropping commodity prices, less revenue, a $120 billion black hole from the Government and two new taxes - a carbon and a mining tax.

JOURNALIST:

Is the opposition still committed to its Direct Action Plan to provide incentives to old and inefficient power stations to cut their emissions?

JOE HOCKEY:

We are absolutely committed to Direct Action. We’re not in the business of chopping and changing policy on a daily basis like this Government. This Government is walking away from a deal that it promised; to close down old brown coal fired power stations. They are walking away from it because they have got a massive Budget problem, they keep talking about the carbon tax and dealing with carbon dioxide emissions as a matter for the future. This is a Government that is confused about its own carbon tax. The carbon tax was barely in nine weeks and the Government started changing it, it’s changed it again and sadly this is policy on the run from an incompetent Government.

JOURNALIST:

Doorstop Wednesday, 5 September 2012 Errors and Omissions Excepted

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Slowing down or closing down old brown coal power stations is a good idea, is it not?

JOE HOCKEY:

Well it is a part of our commitment, absolutely. We said we would discuss these things - transition agreements for those power stations - that is part of our policy. This Government is now backing away from its own policy commitment in that regard; it’s doing so because it has run out of money.

JOURNALIST:

Why has Tony Abbott said he has never supported that - being the closing down of power stations?

JOE HOCKEY:

He has talked about transition arrangement and that is exactly what I have just said.

JOURNALIST:

Investment is up, where is the evidence that the Government is scaring away investors as you argue?

JOE HOCKEY:

Well just look at Fortescue and BHP with announcements in relation to Port Hedland and also Olympic Dam. You can’t tax your way to prosperity, you can’t spend your way to prosperity. This is a Government confused about its economic goals and all it’s focused on is the polls, not the economic goals for the nation.

JOURNALIST:

Are you saying that Fortescue’s decision was related to the carbon tax?

JOE HOCKEY:

Well I have said it before, I said it yesterday on The 7:30 Report. Of course Fortescue has been one of the loudest critics of the mining tax and why? Because it adds to the sovereign risk of investing in Australia. Fortescue relies on foreign investment for a large amount of its capital expenditure and it relies on domestic investment as well, it all adds to the cost of doing businesses in Australia and it

just makes us, overall, a more expensive place to do business. By the way, the Government has had numerous iterations of the mining tax, how do you know they are not going to impose a mining tax -in addition to what they have already done - in the near future to plug their $120 billion hole?

JOURNALIST:

Have you watched Gina Rinehart’s Youtube clip today?

JOE HOCKEY:

No.

JOURNALIST:

What about her proposal for a northern economic zone?

JOE HOCKEY:

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We have talked a lot about investing in northern Australian. It has been something Tony Abbott, myself and Andrew Robb have all talked about. We want to explore it, but it is a long term plan and it needs further discussion.

JOURNALIST:

The Treasurer has accused you of damaging confidence in the economy by talking up the prosect of sovereign risk. What is your response to that?

JOE HOCKEY:

The people talking up the sovereign risk of investing in Australia are the same miners Julia Gillard is trying to get to advocate for her education policies. I mean cut us a break here. Wayne Swan needs to spend time out there meeting real people instead of sitting at home with his iPhone listening to Bruce Springsteen. If he goes and speaks to businesspeople he will soon learn that the sovereign risk is all of his making, it is not of the making of Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey or Donald Duck. By the way, I’ve got quite a few hundred people in there waiting for me. Thank you very much.

[ENDS]

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