Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Opposition Leader promises not increase income tax.

Download PDFDownload PDF

  Australian Labor Party   National ALP   Back

Kim Beazley - ABC Radio 2BL, Sydney - Budget 2001 Monday, 28 May 2001

Kim Beazley - Interview with Sally Loane Subject: Budget 2001

Transcript - ABC Radio 2BL, Sydney - 25 May 2001


LOANE: Kim Beazley, can we trust you when you say that you will not increase personal taxation, income taxation?

BEAZLEY: Yes, you can trust me. And you can trust me for the very good reason, as I was demonstrating last night, we have the opportunity to make substantial changes in the direction of public policy in this country, particularly towards schools and towards our health system, because this is a huge spending Government, full of waste, full of hubris, full of self indulgence, who's funds can be redirected to useful purposes.

LOANE: You isolated last night a number of areas. But they only add up to around $400 million, which is, I suppose, when you're talking Budgets, it's a bit of a drop in the ocean, isn't it? You're going to have to find a lot more.

BEAZLEY: It's not going to be a drop in the ocean for those various areas of policy, the schools, the struggle against cancer, the Medicare After Hours, it won't be a small drop in the bucket for them. But that wasn't the point, Sally, you'll get the full release of policy as the campaign proceeds. What this was, was to show people how we could do a fully costed policy of substance, real substance and basically not affect the Budget bottom line. That was the point of that exercise. It wasn't to produce the final cut of policy. But there's plenty more where that came from. As was pointed out by Saul Eslake. Now, I don't agree with the particular programs he identified, but Saul Eslake came out yesterday and said, 'look, with a Government putting out something like $25 billion worth of new spending over the next four years, why do you assume it's so hard for the Labor Party to make the changes to produce the policies they need'.

LOANE: John Howard this morning has said that voters should be wary of your guarantee not to increase taxes. He's saying that you could fiddle with tax thresholds, you could move them, essentially. He's saying you could increase indirect taxes and you could also increase petrol excise. Are you going to rule all of those out too?

BEAZLEY: That is just typical of John Howard's trickery. All of that would be inconsistent with what I said. But the other thing on John Howard is, who's going to believe a bloke who said we'd 'never ever' have a GST and we've now got that $30 billion gorilla sitting in the system. I'll give John Howard this: he has no shame. He has no shame. I mean, I suppose one of the attributes of a long serving surviving politician is to be shameless. And for a bloke to be coming out questioning my credibility when he has got a personal record like his of betraying his entire constituency which he's been trying to fix up a bit of this week and accuse me of misleading on tax, well, really.

LOANE: Kim Beazley, did you have to hurriedly write in an extra line to your Budget in Reply speech last night after Senator Stephen Conroy made what a lot of people would think would be a fairly honest statement?

BEAZLEY: Understand this about Stephen, you've got to comprehend this, he is not in any of our priority reviews committee's consideration...

LOANE: So, he doesn't know what he's talking about?

BEAZLEY: we're handling our response to the Government's position. It's been obvious to us for some time, and I've been on the record about this, that this Government, which is now a higher spending Government than the Keating and Hawke Governments were, has got its priorities so wrong that we will be able to deal with the introduction of new policy by shifting those priorities. It's not that hard. And I was demonstrating yesterday how you could do that, that's the point I was making.

LOANE: So, you won't have to raise any taxes anywhere?

BEAZLEY: Well, I actually raised a tax last night - I eliminated the Government's decision to allow tax deductibility for political donations - that's what I did. So, that's the point. The point I was making last night that for ordinary Australians we're not in the business of raising taxation on them - that's it, full stop. But that's not a new point from me, by the way. The statements that I made last night, I've made many times before. The debate as far as we are concerned has moved on from that. We are now dealing with a Government of profligacy that can be hauled back to the ranks.

LOANE: Kim Beazley, are you saying that when Stephen Conroy made that statement yesterday to those Kambah school children, that he didn't know what he was talking about, he was talking out of school because he wasn't in those committees to talk about these things?

BEAZLEY: No, I'm just simply making the point to you of his situation.

LOANE: So, he wasn't informed.

BEAZLEY: The fact that he is not on the Priority Review Committee, the people who speak for the Labor Party on these matters are myself and Simon Crean.

LOANE: So he shouldn't have spoken?

BEAZLEY: And he knows full well that what he has said is not in keeping with the options that are open to us. There is a different option open to us and that option I was making amply clear last night. And I will be doing that down to election day. But I can say this, too, because Howard and Costello will always verbal you when you make statements in the way in which he did, there aren't any secret plans harbouring a John Howard GST in our back pocket. You're going to see anything that we intend to do in

the next term of Parliament, be it on cutting spending matters, whatever, on taxation matters - whatever. You are going to see that fully detailed in public before the next election. And you're not going to find us wandering around like John Howard with a $30 billion tax gorilla in our back pocket.

LOANE: Kim Beazley, do you need to wield a bit more of a whip around the troops? I mean, you are in election mode. Do you need a bit more discipline from your backbench, from your frontbenchers?

BEAZLEY: No, I don't. The only person who's harder on Stephen Conroy yesterday than me, was Stephen Conroy himself.

LOANE: So, you had words to him?

BEAZLEY: Yes. We have a disciplined frontbench team. Always in any human organisation, somebody is going to make a slip-up, particularly somebody who is not following, if you like, the day to day development of policy. And that's just the lump you have to take. If you take a look at this Government, you had Mal Brough out there misleading pensioners on day two of the Budget - and he's a Minister. And he had to come out and correct himself on that piece of misleading that he's done. So, these things happen on the way though. The point is, myself and Simon Crean, we speak for the Party on these matters - and we're clear-cut.

LOANE: Kim Beazley, slip-ups, though, can be dangerous, can't they? They can be electorally dangerous. I mean, Labor history is littered with slip-ups that have perhaps cost you an election.

BEAZLEY: Well, the history of politics is littered with slip-ups. What the history of politics is not littered with, however, is characters like John Howard who tell you they'll 'never ever' do a GST and then put a $30 billion tax gorilla on your back. Now, that is a special case. And that is why this morning, as I hear John Howard prattle about secret plans, I think back over his record and if the discussion of the debate that takes place between us on this matter provides us with yet another opportunity to point that out - well that's all to the good.

LOANE: Are you expecting an early election?

BEAZLEY: We have been ready for an election since November. I have to say this: people have been talking about the state of the Budget as producing a difficulty for the Opposition. Well, think about the difficulty it produces for the Government. You've got a whole lot of Australian families out there who think they've been ill-served by the operation of the GST and how is the Government going to ameliorate that? We can change the Government's programs and deal with the Government's profligacy to fund our programs. What is he going to do?'

LOANE: Kim Beazley, thanks for your time this morning.

BEAZLEY: Thanks, Sally.

Ends Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.

Home | Action | News | Policy | People | About