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Transcript of doorstop: Wednesday, 3 September 2008: surplus budgets and business confidence.



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Wed, 3rd September 2008 DUTTON DOORSTOP - SURPLUS BUDGETS AND BUSINESS CONFIDENCE

The Hon Peter Dutton MP Shadow Minister for Finance, Competition Policy and Deregulation

E&OE

PETER DUTTON:

Well, I think it’s about time that “Australia’s Worst Ever Treasurer”, Wayne Swan answered some questions about what it is that they are doing with surplus budgets, both in terms of year 2008-9 and over the forward estimates as well. The Government started off their term in Government, and in fact when they were in Opposition, by saying they were setting up and locking away the gains of the mining boom to preserve that capital and to put it into nation building exercises. We now find out it is about no such thing, they are expending not just the earnings on these funds but also the capital as well. In the one breath the Government says they are maintaining surpluses because they want to protect and buffer the Australian economy against international downturns and domestic downturns, then in the next breath they are saying they are going to spend all of these surpluses on both capital and revenue accounts and that is a bad outcome because if the Government is going to say, on the one hand, that they are spending the surpluses on all of these pet projects, which have not yet been decided or announced, there is no transparency to that process, they can’t then on the other hand turn around and say they are flush with money and we are putting it as a buffer toward any downturn internationally or domestically. I think it is about time that Mr Swan answered that question - what are they going to do with the surplus? Are they going to save it or are they going to spend it and really that is the question that needs to be put to Mr Swan as a matter of urgency.

JOURNALIST:

Question

PETER DUTTON:

Well I think you have to do as the Reserve Bank has said, and in actual fact as the Treasurer said in his May Budget. You have to preserve an amount of capital post the Budget. At the moment in the next year that’s projected just over $20 billion and that is over 1.5% of GDP and that is what the Government said in the May Budget that they were going to do, so you have to provide for surpluses. But as we have always said, once you have paid back Labor’s debt, which we did by 2006, once you have provided services to the Australian people then excess funds should be given back to the Australian people. You can’t have a Government running around like Mr Swan and Mr Rudd are at the moment saying on the one hand that they are going to save the surplus but they are going to spend it as well. They can’t do both they can have one option but not the other.

JOURNALIST:

Question

PETER DUTTON:

I am saying today, “Australia’s Worst Ever Treasurer”, Mr Swan, should come out and say what the surpluses are for. Are the surpluses for spending or for saving? At the moment they are saying to us they are saving the huge surpluses but they are also going to spend them and it does not lend any economic credibility to Mr Swan whatsoever, so I think that is the question that the Government needs to answer. They need to answer it quickly because Mr Swan is proving himself very quickly to be “Australia’s Worst Ever Treasurer”.

JOURNALIST:

Question

PETER DUTTON:

Well I think if you look at consumer and business confidence in particular at the moment, it is shattered. It has been shattered since last November when this Government came into power. It is twice as bad as some other areas, in particular in the United States, in terms of confidence. Their economy is fundamentally weaker than our economy here in Australia and yet confidence is higher in other parts of the world and really when you look deep into these figures it is a reflection on people’s belief in this Government that they don’t have the capacity to take us forward. People believe that Mr Swan has no idea what he is doing and they are right. This is the problem, the consumer and business confidence is shattered and that is compounding the international factors that are facing us at the moment. Thanks very much.