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Transcript of interview with Mike Carlton and Sandy Aloisi: Radio 2UE, Sydney: 11 May 2009: 2009 Budget.



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INTERVIEW WITH MIKE CARLTON & SANDY ALOISI

RADIO 2UE, SYDNEY

11 MAY 2009

SUBJECTS: 2009 Budget

MIKE:

The Treasurer will let it all hang out tomorrow night. Although much of the detail has been carefully leaked beforehand - there'll be tax cuts for workers; single pensioners will get $30 a week, not sure about family pensions, I must ask about that; wealthy families will lose some of the superannuation perks and their private health insurance rebate; and the Budget deficit around about, maybe, $60 billion.

SANDY:

The big news at last, we'll get paid maternity leave for new mothers. It'll be 18 weeks for families earning less than $150,000 a year, paid at the minimum wage rate of $544 a week. The Government will pay - not the employers - but it won't begin until January 1st 2011.

On the line the Treasurer, Wayne Swan. Good morning.

MIKE:

Good morning.

TREASURER:

Good morning. How are you going? I'm not sure all that was correct, Mike, in your summary of the Budget tomorrow night, but we'll have to wait and see.

MIKE:

Hold on. What bit was not correct?

TREASURER:

[laughs]

MIKE:

Go on, deny.

Transcript of 11/05/2009

Page 1 of 5 Transcript - 2009 Budget - Interview with Mike Carlton & Sandy Aloisi, Radio 2UE, ...

SANDY:

You know, Treasurer, you can't throw a statement like that out there and then not back it up with something.

TREASURER:

I think Mike did, and I can.

MIKE:

Well, a lot of families are going to hold off having a baby for 18 months then are they?

TREASURER:

No, I'm not sure that's the case at all. But we are going to introduce paid parenting leave in a measured way, it's true, recognising the realities of the global recession and also recognising the need to set this up in terms of its administration.

MIKE:

Well, why delay it until 2011?

TREASURER:

Because I think it's prudent to give some time to adjust and to recognise our current circumstances. This is a very important long term social and economic reform and we are doing it in probably the most difficult budgetary circumstances in a very long period of time. So, the Government has decided to introduce the scheme, but to do it in a measured way. We need to get it set up. I think we also need to recognise just how difficult circumstances are at the moment.

SANDY:

So, if you get paid maternity leave, what happens to the Baby Bonus and Family Tax Benefits?

TREASURER:

Well, the Baby Bonus and Family Tax Benefit stays there for those mums who aren't in the workforce. Paid parental leave is for those in the workforce that are working I think at least a day a week and they have to qualify over a period of something like 10 to 13 months.

MIKE:

Yeah, but if you do get paid maternity leave will you also get the Baby Bonus?

TREASURER:

No, you'll get Family Tax Benefit but you most certainly will not be getting the Baby Bonus.

SANDY:

What's happening with the 50 per cent Child Care Rebate? Will that get the axe?

Page 2 of 5 Transcript - 2009 Budget - Interview with Mike Carlton & Sandy Aloisi, Radio 2UE, ...

TREASURER:

Well, I'm not going to rule things in or rule things out. I know - we had this discussion the other day, Mike.

MIKE:

Well, look, it's all over the front of the Herald today, and obviously they've got a leak from somewhere. Can you confirm or deny? It will make people feel a little bit easier.

TREASURER:

Not every one of the assertions that is in the papers at the moment is correct. I mean, I can't rule things in or rule things out, and I have no intention of doing so.

SANDY:

Well, the Prime Minister told us late last week there'd be howls of pain from this Budget. So, who exactly do you think will be screaming?

TREASURER:

Well, this is a very complex situation that the country's in. We've had a huge reduction in national income imposed on the country. We've had a record write-down of revenues of the tune of something like $200 billion. So, what that means is some very tough decisions. What we've got to do is to continue to put in place economic stimulus because of that sharp contraction in demand. We've also got to make room for some very important initiatives particularly to make room to assist pensioners, and also to put in place the long term savings over time to make sure our Budget is sustainable well into the future.

SANDY:

We've heard about single pensioners probably getting an extra $30 a week, Treasurer. What about couples?

TREASURER:

I'm not going to (inaudible).

MIKE:

Well, the $30 has been a comprehensive leak. Nobody's denied it. Is it only a deal for single pensioners or is there something in it for married ones?

TREASURER:

Well, I'm not going to go into that.

MIKE:

Oh, come on.

TREASURER:

Page 3 of 5 Transcript - 2009 Budget - Interview with Mike Carlton & Sandy Aloisi, Radio 2UE, ...

Yeah, I know. It's very inviting….

MIKE:

Can't we have a leak as well? Everyone else has had one.

SANDY:

That's a good way of putting it.

MIKE:

A little one.

SANDY:

What about the $60 billion or so deficit, Treasurer? Are we going to see deficits for the next five or six years? Probably yes. So, what do you say to the Opposition's claim that you're building up this huge mountain of debt for our kids to have to deal with.

TREASURER:

Well, I think the weight is really on the Opposition in these circumstances. The reason why the deficits are higher and will last for longer is because of the massive revenue write-downs that have come from the global recession. It's not a consequence of government spending. And that's what the Opposition has to recognise, because if they were in government now and they would claim that they wouldn't be running these deficits and the borrowing to go with them, they would have to massively slash existing government services or massively increase government taxes to make up for this lost revenue caused by the global recession. So, they've got to fess up. They've got a con job going here on deficit and debt. The fact is that when this is imposed on us by the [rest] of the world they, like the current government, would have to borrow, because the consequence of not doing that would be a savage attack on services or dramatic increases in taxes which would make the recession deeper and longer.

MIKE:

Right. Listener questions coming in. The first homebuyers grant, what are you going to do with that? Or are you not going to confirm or deny again?

TREASURER:

Well, that will be discussed tomorrow night, Mike.

MIKE:

Well, a lot of people are worried about that. The young couples who are even now maybe thinking of buying a home, are you going to choke it off at 8.00 pm tomorrow night or are you going to give them…

TREASURER:

All I can say is that it's played a really important role in helping a lot of young families get into the housing market. I can also say that it's really put a real pace into the housing market at a time when it was needed.

Page 4 of 5 Transcript - 2009 Budget - Interview with Mike Carlton & Sandy Aloisi, Radio 2UE, ...

MIKE:

Will it continue on?

TREASURER:

Well, as I said, we'll see tomorrow night.

MIKE:

Go on, be daring just for once. Be brave.

TREASURER:

Last time I was daring on your program I got into a lot of trouble, Mike.

MIKE:

What did I do? Was it something horrible?

TREASURER:

No, it was pretty funny actually, but anyway.

SANDY:

We'll have to hear about that later. What about this, Treasurer, I mean, we've heard a lot about the Budget being very tough on us, a lot of negative stuff, doom and gloom happening. Is there anything you can give us to be optimistic about?

TREASURER:

Well, I'm an optimist about this country in the long term. The fundamentals for Australia in the long term are very good, and even in the middle of this global recession we are doing far better than just about every other developed country, and we should never forget that. It's just that we've had a very sharp contraction in demand imposed upon us by a global recession and what we have to do in this Budget is a complex task. As I said before, we've got to stimulate the economy now to do everything we can to support jobs, and that's important, and to support business, whilst at the same time putting in place a plan for the future to make the savings to ensure that our Budget is sustainable for the long term, because, you see the mining boom has unwound. And on top of that we've got a fully fledged global recession, a very sharp decrease in national income, and we have to cut our cloth to suit those circumstances for the short term, the medium term and the long term.

SANDY:

That probably about sums it up. Treasurer, thanks for your time.

MIKE:

I hope we didn't get you into any trouble again. Thanks a lot.

Page 5 of 5 Transcript - 2009 Budget - Interview with Mike Carlton & Sandy Aloisi, Radio 2UE, ...