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Budget 2011: Transcript of interview with David Koch: 11 May 2011: 2011-12 Budget

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Transcript of interview with David Koch WED 11 MAY 2011

Prime Minister

Subject(s): 2011-12 Budget

HOST: Prime Minister thanks for joining us.

Most people waking up this morning will wonder what’s in the budget for them, but plenty of middle class families have taken a bit of a hit, haven’t they?

PM: Well there are some important things for people to look at in this budget. Kochie, you’re right, this budget is about jobs, jobs and jobs. We’ve got a proud track record of creating jobs, 750,000 created already and we’re going to create half a million more.

You’re also right that this budget is requiring people to step up and get themselves into work.

Sorry, I’m struggling there Kochie with the ear-piece, but I’ll fix it while I’m talking.

We are going to get people to step up into work, we are going to see a strongly growing economy, Kochie, and when the economy is growing strongly what you do is you get the budget back into black, but you also recognise that the economy is hungry for workers and I don’t want Australians left behind. Very long term unemployed people, people with disabilities, young people, not getting a job and getting into the mainstream of economic life in this country.

For families, for small businesses, there are benefits in this budget. You’ve referred yourself to the fact that families with teenagers will get new benefits under our family payments scheme, if they keep their kids in education, because that’s an important message. Small businesses will be able to write off the first $5000 of buying that all important ute or van to keep the business on the road and very low income earners, through our low income tax offset, will see more money in their pay packet each week. We’ve brought forward those payments, so people can more directly see the benefits of getting out and working hard.

HOST: Yeah, the other tricky thing that you’ve done, which is quite smart is you’ve nipped and tucked middle class welfare, have you. You’ve frozen some payments and supplements and you’ve frozen the eligibility - not indexed it - so people will automatically, through pay

rises, make themselves ineligible. Is that a target, do you think Australians were getting way too used to hand outs?

PM: We had to deliver a tough budget because that’s what the economy needs now and Kochie, that means you’ve got to make some difficult choices. You can’t just wander around as the Opposition is wont to do, saying the world surplus, you’ve got to make it all add up. So, yes, there are some cut backs in this Budget, but they are there to ensure we get the budget to surplus in 2012-13.

People are not going to directly lose dollars out of their family payments, but yes we are pausing indexation, that’s true. But the importance of coming back to surplus is that means we’re not adding to inflationary pressures in the economy and it will be bad for peoples’ cost of living if government was adding to inflationary pressures by not getting the budget back into surplus.

HOST: Look, we read about the commodities boom, it’s the biggest commodities boom in this country’s history, but outside of WA I reckon most Australians would be saying to themselves ‘Hey, I’m not feeling any commodities boom here. My life’s not getting easier, it’s getting tougher’.

In this budget, show us where we all benefit from the commodities boom and how it’s helping you make a better country for our kids?

PM: Kochie I think you’re absolutely on the money. I think a lot of people pick up their newspapers, watch your TV show and say to themselves ‘Gee, I don’t know where this boom is because it doesn’t seem to be right here for my household, or my workplace’. We do have an economy that’s got variable speeds - I call it the patchwork economy, some people call it the two speed economy - what that means is our resources sector is running ahead, our dollar is high, that puts pressure on some other industries.

The best thing we can do in those circumstances is to try and spread the opportunities from the boom and that means continuing to run the economy so we’re creating jobs, half a million more is an important figure. That we’re providing skills to people to get a better job or to get into work for the first time and there’s a $3 billion skills package in this budget.

And also providing the quality services that everyone relies on - a great school for your child to go to, your hospital working well - and in this budget I’m really proud we’ve delivered a $2.2 billion mental health package. Australians are generous and fair people and whilst our economy will be running strong, I don’t think we want to see Australians with mental illness

left behind.

HOST: Could you have done more for the frayed bits of that patchwork economy, like people might be surprised our biggest exports in this country are coal and iron ore, everyone would know that, then comes education and tourism. Now those two are getting hammered at the moment, there’s still GST on tourism exports. It’s the only export that has a GST on it, foreign tourist coming in here, our student visas are down. They’re two big industries that may be decimated.

PM: If I can start with the student visas and come back to tourism. Kochie, the truth is there was some big rorts in the student visa system and we acted to fix them and so some of the dramatic drop you’ve seen in numbers-

HOST: Did you go too far?

PM:- Oh, well, look, we’re working through to make sure all of the settings are right, but I’m not apologising at all for getting the rorts out of the system. There were a lot of people coming here, who weren’t really coming here for an education, they thought it was a

backdoor into Australia’s migration system. We inherited that from the former Government and we fixed it and so some of the dramatic drops you see are the product of fixing it.

For universities, we have ensured that they are better funded and they are growing, that they can offer more kids, more adults, the benefits of a university education, whilst keeping the quality up and we’ll continue to work with universities on properly fostering international education, quality education, not rorts.

On tourism, we’ve funded some major tourism campaigns, taking our wonderful, wonderful country right to the world. Kochie, we do have a system to work with the GST and foreign tourists, but I understand this has been an important focus of yours and we’re always happy to cadge some ideas from you, if you’ve got some more in that area.

HOST: Beauty, alright. We’ll have a chat. Prime Minister, thanks very much for that, appreciate your time this morning.

PM: Thanks very much. Thanks Kochie.