Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Transcript of doorstop: Monday, 13 October 2008: deposit guarantee; single age pension; infrastructure; bipartisanship.

Download PDFDownload PDF


The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP Leader of the Opposition



We welcome the decisions taken by the Prime Minister to guarantee Australian deposits to support our banking system and of course to ensure continued competition in the mortgage market.

We will provide support for the early passage of necessary legislation through the Parliament and we look forward to any early briefing from the Treasury on the detail of the Prime Minister’s proposals today.


Mr Turnbull part of the Prime Minister’s strategy, as well as to rely on the big surplus to try to get into that to keep growth bubbling along. Why won’t your party support the passage of budget measures through the Senate that could guarantee the size of the surplus?


Well, you know at a time when you want to stimulate the economy, raising taxes is not a very good idea and the measures that we have opposed in the Senate will increase cost to Australians and raise taxes. The remaining measures represent about $4 billion of revenue over the next four years and so in the scheme of the overall budget, I think it represents quite a bit less than half a per cent of forecast government revenues over that period.

The real issue is the near term, the immediate term, and one of the things that the Prime Minister could do, as indeed many economic commentators have observed today to stimulate the economy in the near term and in addition provide justice and fairness and compassion to Australia’s pensioners, is to deliver that $30 a week increase in the single age and veterans pensions.


Is this really the time to be making all this extra spending? Shouldn’t we be guarding the surplus with the economic crisis?


Well I think the Prime Minister himself has recognised that we face a very, very real risk of a major economic slowdown. Now we are all hoping that Australia will remain in the positive growth area over the next year or two, but we know that a number of other developed economies in the world are going or either in or heading into

recession - some of them in fact maybe going into very deep recessions. So there are tough and challenging times ahead.

Now the surplus is there to be used judiciously in the national interest and one way to provide stimulus to the economy in tough times is to improve the position of pensioners. Now you don’t need a tough economic situation to justify that alone. Pensioners need to be given a fair deal. Never forget that pensioners have been told by the leading members of this Government that they could not live on the pension, a pension millions of Australians are living on. And so it is only the cold indifference of the Government that has prevented that $30 a week increase being passed on right now.

Now in addition to the arguments of compassion, of equity, of justice, of fairness there is also the need for an economic stimulus - and this is one economic stimulus that could be delivered in the near term. And this is a very important point to bear in mind in the context of infrastructure. Now all of us support appropriate investment in infrastructure and the Coalition in government spent tens of billions of dollars of Australians’ taxes on infrastructure. But infrastructure projects take a long time to plan and get together and if you commit to a project today the bulk of the money may not be spent until years into future - in some cases many years.

So an immediate stimulus, a near term stimulus, has got to put money into people’s pockets today and one way of doing that, of putting money into some very empty pockets, is to give the $30 a week increase to the pensioners.


Mr Turnbull Mr Rudd seems to be plundering a lot of your ideas, are you frustrated…or how frustrated are you that he won’t actually sit down with you in the same room and have a chinwag about...


The only note of disappointment that I want to express is Mr Rudd’s failure to engage in a bipartisan constructive discussion with us. Now I made that offer more than three weeks ago. I wrote to him. I haven’t even received the courtesy of a reply to the letter.

Now it is plain that this is a time when Australians expect their leaders to put the national interest first and put party politics into second place. Now we’re prepared to do that but we need to be able to sit down with him. We’ve made that offer and I make that offer again. And I think just as the times have become a bit more challenging in the last three weeks, Mr Rudd should reconsider that offer and take it up.

Thanks very much.