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Transcript of interview with Steve Price and Andrew Bolt: MTR Radio: 28 January 2011: [flood levy]



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Joe Hockey, MP  Shadow Treasurer  Member for North Sydney

 

INTERVIEW - MTR RADIO - STEVE PRICE AND ANDREW BOLT

28TH JANUARY 2011

E&OE………………………………………………………………………………………

STEVE PRICE:

The Shadow Treasurer is Joe Hockey, he’s on the line. Thanks for your time.

JOE HOCKEY:

Good morning.

STEVE PRICE:

It would appear in the Independents in the lower hours and a couple of senators in the Senate have said that they are not happy the way this has been designed. You have said the opposition would oppose it, if you managed to frustrate this levy are you in danger of being seen by Queenslanders, in particular, and Victorians as not being willing to help out those that have been damaged and hurt in the floods?

JOE HOCKEY:

No, emphatically no.

STEVE PRICE:

Well how can that be no?

JOE HOCKEY:

Because we will offer alternative savings to the $1.8 billion levy.

STEVE PRICE:

So you would put the 1.8 billion to one side and you would make it up with extra savings.

JOE HOCKEY:

That is right. Julia Gillard has indicated that if the bill is bigger she will do the same. The difference is Julia Gillard is starting with a new levy, rather than starting with her cutting her own budget. This is where we have a problem, this is three times larger than any other levy we have seen on an annual basis when it has been introduced. This is significant, it is $1.8 billion but in a budget of $330 billion of expenditure it won’t be hard to find that money.

STEVE PRICE:

What was the gun buyback levy?

JOE HOCKEY:

The gun buyback levy was less than $500 million, and the Ansett levy was about $286 million, the Superannuation Guarantee Levy, which was a different levy as it was based on wealth as a wealth based product, it was different again but it started off at about $460 million.

ANDREW BOLT:

Joe, if you were going to make the savings elsewhere where would you cut?

JOE HOCKEY:

Andrew, we will give you the full detail on that over the next few days. We have been going through the Budget papers. It is challenging for us as outsiders when the government doesn’t give us the information, but we are very confident we’ve certainly have found $1.8 billion of savings.

ANDREW BOLT:

Can I tell you that I have not only found $1.8 billion, which is what Gillard thinks the levy will raise, but much more than that $2.6 billion that could instantly go, in fact will become available at the next NSW state election. You remember Julia Gillard promised $2.6 billion for a rail link between Parramatta and Epping? The NSW Liberal Party will win that election in a month or two and they said they don’t want it. So there is $2.6 billion saved, more than the levy.

JOE HOCKEY:

The irony is that Labor promised that rail line for years and years and never delivered it.

STEVE PRICE:

But isn’t there the money? Or is that a hollow log.

JOE HOCKEY:

That is an example of a hollow log. There should be billions of dollars sitting in a whole range of different funds.

STEVE PRICE:

But Joe says the money might not exist.

JOE HOCKEY:

That is one thing. It is also the case that there are savings to be made in a range of different areas - Productivity Places, GP Superclinics. Why are they building school halls at schools that still haven’t got repair jobs done on their classrooms? Why are they rolling out an NBN employing electricians when you can’t get electricians to rewire your home?

STEVE PRICE:

Do you find it ironic that the place they went to find savings, the 2.8 billion, were all green projects?

ANDREW BOLT:

I was going to ask this question!

JOE HOCKEY:

I know how strongly Andrew feels about this. The irony is that she is abolishing those programs because she is introducing a carbon tax later in the year.

ANDREW BOLT:

That is an excuse Joe. There is no certainty what that carbon tax will be, whether it will get through parliament - the Greens want it higher, you want it lower. It is a joke! As a global warming believer yourself….

JOE HOCKEY:

Climate change believer…

ANDREW BOLT:

Well I believe in climate change too…

JOE HOCKEY:

How about that!

ANDREW BOLT:

We’re supposed to be paying a carbon tax with Gillard, eventually, to stop global warming, which Penny Wong once said would cause drought, instead we are cutting all these programs to stop this drought causing global warming and paying a levy for the floods we got instead, something doesn’t compute here.

JOE HOCKEY:

Andrew, you are right, it doesn’t compute, I totally accept that. We are a nation that is going to always suffer wild weather and wild events, because we are a huge continent. As we increase our population inevitably more people will be affected by those wild events. The starting point is that we all pay taxes, and that money is sitting in the hands of the federal government, then they go and impose a levy on a select group of people in the community, it is a burden being carried by some but not by everyone for the vagaries of this nation

STEVE PRICE:

So in government did you ever consider a natural disaster fund?

JOE HOCKEY:

I don’t recall that we did because our view was that you have an obligation as a government to step up to the plate and if you don’t there are other factors like insurance policies and a range of other things that kick in. We set up the National Disaster Scheme and we set up the funding mechanism where the federal government picks up about three quarters of the money.

Just to come back one step, my greatest grief about this levy is it is unprecedented in Australia to have a government beg the Australian people to donate money, to volunteer to help those affected and then afterwards

to go and hit those same people with a new tax, with a levy. From my perspective that has a big impact on the psyche of our nation next time we ask people to give generously or volunteer.

ANDREW BOLT:

After being soaked for the couple of thousand I will be, and I’m on a good income I know, I’m not inclined to donate anything further. Joe, that raises another point, no politician wants to defend the rich in Australia because you will be seen as being out of touch, but doesn’t it amaze you that Julia Gillard claimed that everyone would be happy to pay, yet designs a levy where most taxpayers won’t pay. This is a very savage impost on the richer Australians, with the not so rich Australians paying not a cent here. Something is out of sync here.

JOE HOCKEY:

You are right, and yesterday Julia Gillard was asked about how many people would pay and she couldn’t say, at the National Press Club she couldn’t give an answer. This just illustrates the fact that these guys just don’t know what they are doing. Their anguage is overblown, the classic being Wayne Swan saying we’re not going to have significant cuts because we’re not going to cut nurses or teachers. Well Canberra doesn’t employ one nurse, Canberra doesn’t employ one teacher! So when he says that he doesn’t want to have budget cuts because that will lead to sackings of nurses and teachers, he just deliberately misled the Australian people. Australians are prepared to pay, Australians are generous, it is not so much about the amount of money they have to pay it is the fact that they are now being levied after they have been incredibly generous and incredibly supportive. They pay for it out of their tax, which is already in the hands of the government, now they are being asked to pay on top of it with a flood levy, and that is on top of the generous donations they have already made.

STEVE PRICE:

Good on you, Joe, thanks for your time.

[Ends]