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Transcript of doorstop interview: Sydney: 24 January 2011: [flood tax; carbon tax; NBN; interest rates; RBA]



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Joe Hockey, MP  Shadow Treasurer  Member for North Sydney 

DOORSTOP - SYDNEY

24TH JANUARY 2011

JOURNALIST:

Mr Hockey, what is wrong with a flood levy to maintain the surplus that the government has forecast?

JOE HOCKEY:

On top of Julia Gillard’s mining tax, Julia Gillard’s carbon tax, Julia Gillard’s increase in the cigarette tax, increases in alcohol taxes and car taxes, a flood tax will have a profound influence on Australian households at a time when the Australian government continues to employ people in competition with the private sector - electricians building the NBN, carpenters building school halls, the sorts of people essential for the rebuild of destroyed houses in flood affected areas.

JOURNALIST:

You, yourself, talked of the importance of a surplus. Why is protecting that not a priority as well?

JOE HOCKEY:

Well you best protect a surplus by cutting back on expenditure now and using it for other purposes.

JOURNALIST:

What would you cut back on spending?

JOE HOCKEY:

We’ve already indicated that the government can cut back on programs like Cash for Clunkers and Productivity Places. The government can cut back in a whole range of areas, including the NBN. If the government has the courage to cut back on its own expenditure then it can still deliver a surplus and it can stop slugging Australian households. At the end of the day Australians cannot keep paying more taxes and the government has got to reprioritise its spending.

JOURNALIST:

You mentioned the infrastructure costs of the damage caused by the floods, how would you raise the money to pay for that?

JOE HOCKEY:

As I have said, it is plainly ridiculous for the government to be employing electricians on the NBN when down the road someone can’t get an electrician to rewire their home that is flood affected. It is plainly ridiculous for the government to be employing carpenters in school halls when the school itself may be in need of a carpenter to repair flood damaged classrooms. This is the absurdity of the government’s current priorities: if you want to keep the Australian economy strong you cannot keep taking a baseball bat to Australian households with more taxes -

carbon taxes, mining taxes, cigarette taxes, alcohol taxes. This is the sort of stuff that Labor does but ultimately if they don’t cut their own expenditure then it is going to be like a baseball bat to the average Australian household.

JOURNALIST:

You mentioned the RBA is going to be facing pressures, probably towards the end of this year, given low unemployment because of the floods and rising inflation. How would you suggest the government goes about making sure that the RBA doesn’t increase rates?

JOE HOCKEY:

It is simple - it keeps coming back to reducing government expenditure, this government is continuing to run a significant fiscal expansion at the same time as the economy continues to grow relatively strongly with low unemployment. It is a threatening cocktail to the Australian economy and to everyday Australian households. I can say it a hundred different ways, the bottom line is this: you to have the courage to make hard decisions as leader. Julia Gillard contracts out to private sector advisors - the mining tax, dealing with global climate change, and now with floods. I would say to Julia Gillard: start leading the nation, start making hard decisions, decisions that have a positive impact on Australian households, not just more taxes and more windbaggery.

JOURNALIST:

You said a third of the Budget goes on welfare and you mentioned a few other aspects that the government spends on, is that something you would cut back on? This year we have seen the introduction of paid maternity leave and things like that.

JOE HOCKEY:

We have announced, in the course of the election, tens of billions of dollars of expenditure cuts to pay for expenditure in other areas, we would expect the government to have the same sort of courage. It is absurd for the government to leave Australians in a position where they have to pay more taxes rather than the government spend money on rebuilding flood affected areas. Isn’t it absurd that the government is spending money on a Green Car Innovation Fund and yet not spending money on electricians to get power to flood affected homes? Isn’t it absurd that the government is trying to create employment places when low unemployment is going to be the result of this flood as people try and rebuild flood affected areas? Isn’t it absurd that the government is rolling out an NBN that is requiring electricians next door to houses that haven’t got electricity connected, or the wires in their house are shorting because they have still got water in them? This is the absurdity of a Labor government. I would say to them that it is going to end in tears for the Australian economy if the government keeps slugging Australians with more taxes - carbon taxes, mining taxes, alcohol taxes, flood taxes.

JOURNALIST:

So should the government delay its return to surplus?

JOE HOCKEY:

No, let me be clear, they can still deliver a surplus and there are two ways to do it. One is they can introduce a new tax, and we strongly oppose that. Alternatively they can reprioritise their spending and we support that.

[Ends]