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Transcript of interview with David Oldfield: Radio 2UE: 4 May 2011: family tax announcement; carbon tax canapé campaign

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Christopher Pyne, MP 

Shadow Minister for Education, Apprenticeships and Training  Manager of Opposition Business in the House   

Transcript - 2UE - 4 May 2011

Published 4/5/2011

SUBJECTS: family tax announcement; carbon tax canapé campaign

(Introduction omitted)

David Oldfield: The move here to make sure that more children complete their education, apart from the fact that

whether it works or not, are we doing something wrong in the sense of the level of welfare in every conceivable place, I

would have thought that once upon a time there was enough incentive to go to school to make something of yourself to

ensure that you had a comfortable life?

Pyne: Well I think that the confusing part of the government's announcement, or pre-budget leak, which is in the papers

this morning, is that on the one hand Wayne Swan and Penny Wong say that this is going to be a tough no-frills budget

and they're going to really be showing everyone how good they can be at living within their means and yet in the last

three days in education alone we've had about one and a half billion dollars of new spending commitments announced,

which of course is mostly smoke and mirrors as they don't start until 2014 in most cases, but how can the government

be saying that they haven't got enough money for all sorts of spending initiatives, but then announce three spending

initiatives culminating today in $750 billion on low income families through education benefits? It doesn't make sense to

us and I would have thought the smartest way to reduce cost of living pressures on families would be not to introduce a

carbon tax or a mining tax.

Oldfield: Absolutely, and what about if we've got all this extra money, rather than just putting it in to try to pay kids to

stay at school, why don't we put it in to job creation and apprenticeships?

Pyne: Well I wonder whether the government has made a mistake in trying to increase the Family Tax Benefit Part A

beyond 16 years to 18 years, I wonder whether they didn't realise that meant that also those families would attract up to

$3,600 in rental assistance a year and have discovered that they've got another one of those blowouts on their hands

because they are so sloppy in the way that they manage things. But you make a very good point, if there's $770 million

dollars to spend on education and skills, one of the thing that I find in travelling around Australia is that people are most

concerned about how to keep apprentices right through to the end of their apprenticeship. About 50% of people never

finish their apprenticeship, which is remarkable given the commitment that small business and government makes to

apprentices, not to mention the apprentices themselves who after 2 or 3 years of being an apprentice don't actually end

up with the qualification at the end of it which worries me a great deal. The Skills Council of Australia indicated that 8

million people in Australia don't have the literacy and numeracy that's required for basic jobs in this country, and if

there's $770 million dollars to spend, we need to build our workforce through skills and apprenticeships and trades to

ensure that we have the workers we need over the next 20 years.

Oldfield: Rather than continually bringing in supposed skilled workers to fill jobs that could be filled by Australians who

ultimately finish up unemployed throughout their lives.

Pyne: Well unfortunately we're going to need all these workers because the government isn't training enough people

here in Australia to do unskilled labour as well as skilled labour. We don't have a pool of workers to do the unskilled jobs

that still need to be done, unlike the United States and Asia who have large numbers of unskilled workers to tap into, we

don't have those. So it's a real catch 22, and while of course the opposition doesn't oppose reducing cost of living

pressures on low income families by extending Family Tax Benefit Part A, I do question two aspects of it, the logic of

spending that money on welfare rather than on programs to build skills number one, and number two, if they really want

to reduce pressures on cost of living don't introduce new taxes, that's what's really killing families.

Oldfield: Now can we take that as a specific announcement from you, or at some stage can we expect an

announcement as to how the Coalition would spend this money if indeed it was available?

Pyne: Well Tony Abbott will respond to the Budget next Thursday in his Leader's reply to the budget, it's going to be a

very important week for the government and opposition and all the specific details of what the opposition will be doing

will be outlined in the Leader's speech next Thursday or over the comings weeks and months, but I mean I think we

have a pretty good idea of what the opposition would do. We believe in living within our means, we also believe in

welfare to work reforms that help build the workforce and reduce the reliance of people on the Disability Support

Pension, and we want people to move to where the jobs are, especially young people. We've announced over the last

couple of weeks a program in mental health and of course we have the ongoing issue of the cost blowouts in detention.

I mean it's no surprise that in this week's budget it's likely there will be a $500 million dollar blow-out in the cost to keep

people in detention which wouldn't be necessary if the government hadn't dismantled our border protection policies.

Oldfield: Another $500 million we could have had to spend, let's give people jobs and incentives not compensation and


Pyne: hear hear.

Oldfield: Chris, before you go, just wanted to ask you, tonight is it the great meeting of minds at Kirribilli House, a few

champagnes watching the sun go down and watching the lights of Sydney Harbour flintier away as Prime Minister

Gillard tries to schmooze business leaders, possibly, with the offer of a free scalp massage from Tim Matheson, to

convince them that the carbon tax, Julia Gillard who knows nothing about business , who has no business background

of any kind, is going to convince them that the carbon tax won't hurt their business.

Pyne: Well I'm calling it a canapé campaign designed to overcome opposition from business. The Problem the

government has is that the carbon tax is friendless because it's a bad tax built on a lie and there was a recent speech

given by Geoff Gallop, the former Premier of Western Australia which had some marketing in it which showed that the

number one complaint that people have about politics is that politicians don't keep their promises and tell balled faced

lies and the reason why Julia Gillard can not sell her carbon tax in spite of the canapé campaign is because it's built on

a lie and people won't support it.

Oldfield: Chris, appreciate your time.

Pyne: Good to talk to you David.