Commission of Cuts

Today we’ve had the announcement from the Finance Minister and from the Treasurer where they’ve done what Liberals do. They’ve announced a commission, the commission for cuts. We predicted before the election that this is exactly what they would do and they denied it. They said this was all hysterical. But anyone who has watched new Liberal Governments has seen this all before. 

We saw it with Campbell Newman, we saw it with Peter Costello, we saw it with Jeff Kennett. It’s involved 14,000 jobs, 30,000 jobs, they’ve involved cuts to education and cuts to health. But before the election we were told by Joe Hockey that this was going to be completely different. 

On the 5th of September in an interview on the 7.30 Report Joe Hockey told Australians that there would be areas that would be immune to cuts. He said that there would be no cuts to education, to health, to defence or to medical research and yet today in his announcement he said and I quote: ‘Every area of government is going to be examined. There are no restrictions.’ Well that’s not what he said before the election. Before the election he was telling the Australian people that areas like health and education, medical research and defence were safe. Now we find all of that was wrong. And the cuts that will come through this aren’t cuts a long way down the track this will report and report quickly.

In the same announcement Joe Hockey did another thing that was entirely different to what the Australian people were told before the election he was going to do. And when the Treasurer and the Finance Minister stood up for their media conference today, I don’t think many Australians would have predicted that the same people who claimed debt was a massive problem in Australia, who claimed there was a ‘budget emergency’, were then going to stand up and say ‘by the way, Australia’s debt level should be allowed to go to half a trillion dollars’. But that’s what they have put forward today, and what the parliament to vote on it, without the parliament being told the true estate of the economy. MYEFO should be read to go out. When the mid-year economic forecast is released that’s when all of the information be provided transparently, to allow people to know the true state of the economy. And yet they continue to delay that and now they are setting up a situation where they want Australia’s debt to be allowed to go up to half a trillion dollars, before MYEFO has been released.

Now when this comes before the Parliament we will look at it and deal with it responsibly, but I think every Australian can know full well that what Joe Hockey is now doing on both the Commission of Cuts and the issue of the debt ceiling, is a million miles away from the expectations he gave the Australian people before the election.

What we have, if I can repeat, is a situation where the Liberals are doing what Liberals always do. They have a commission which is aimed at cuts, which go across everywhere area of government, areas we were told were immune will not be immune, and Joe Hockey has now made the broken promise clear. The party said they were all about turning around debt has now asked for permission for it to go to half a trillion dollars. This is a very different government to what Australians were being told they were electing. 

Tony Burke