MARIUS BENSON: Tony Burke on Thursday 18 Labor Members thrown out, you made a point that is a record since Federation. Do you think you’ll break that record this week?

SHADOW FINANCE MINISTER AND MANAGER OF OPPOSITION BUSINESS TONY BURKE: Well I hope not, you’d rather stay in the Parliament than be booted out of it, but you know we’ll wait and see. One of us got thrown out for quoting a Standing order on Thursday so the benchmark is certainly shifting.

BENSON: But when you say you hope not, obviously Labor was intending to disrupt Parliament last Thursday, you were inviting being thrown out, it was part of the general theory that Tony Abbott pursued so effectively, which is if there’s disorder in the House it reflects badly more on the Government than the Opposition, that was obviously Labor’s thinking?

BURKE: Oh we went hard, I’m not denying we went hard. We’ve got plenty that we’re fighting for here, but as I say when you think of something like Melissa Parke who was thrown out for quoting a Standing Order, you know let’s not pretend that the benchmark in the Chamber at the moment is what it used to be.

BENSON: Alright, at the weekend the Victorian Election demonstrated that one term governments can be thrown out, what are the lessons you draw from Victoria? Obviously, the Federal Government is trying to minimise the role of the Federal Government in the Victorian result and I guess you’re trying to maximise that role.

BURKE: Well let’s not forget what the Federal Government was doing before the people voted on Saturday. Last week there were 21 Dorothy Dixer questions about Victoria that were asked by Government Ministers. Before they heard the result, they thought the Victorian Election was completely about them. The moment they heard what the result was they ran a million miles and said ‘oh nothing to do with us’. You can’t continue to have them before the election saying one thing and after the election saying the opposite. Before the election they were desperate to be seen in the Federal Parliament in Question Time day after day being associated with the issues in the Victorian campaign. They’ve run a mile now they’ve heard what the people have had to say.

BENSON: But obviously there’s a big difference between state and federal elections. Would you expect any unpopularity at the Federal level to cost say Mike Baird the Premiership in New South Wales or Campbell Newman in Queensland?

BURKE: Of course in state elections you’ve got a set of issues that are there. I’m simply referring to the behaviour of the Federal Government. Before the election the Federal Government were desperate to try to weigh in on that election and after people had voted they’ve run a mile from it.

BENSON: Can I turn to economics issues because Deloitte Access Economics has put out some analysis today saying that is sees deficits as far as the eye can see because the revenue from the boom times is gone and governments are still locked in to boom time spending, for which previous governments Labor and John Howard’s before that can be blamed.

BURKE: It’s $35 billion they’re saying the blowout’s been. Now let’s put Joe Hockey up against the tests that he established when he was Shadow Treasurer. When he was Shadow Treasurer his view was whenever there was a change in revenue write downs, whenever new information had to be plugged in, if the first set of data hadn’t been accurate then it was the fault of the Treasurer. In fact in his old argument he would claim it was the incompetence of the Treasurer. He said that he’d be judged on how he handled debt and deficit. The moment he arrived he doubled the deficit, now we’re seeing it continue to blow out, and this is at the same time they’re claiming to us that the only way to fix it is to abolish universal health care. This is the same government that wants to introduce a $20 billion Paid Parental Leave Scheme, that’s introduced more than a billion dollars worth of measures in there so called Direct Action that’s about paying polluters and then has given up revenue on high income superannuation accounts and stopping multi-national companies from being able to hive off all their profits into tax havens. Joe Hockey has to acknowledge that a large part of this blow out rests entirely at his feet.

BENSON: Just picking up one of the issues you pointed to there is one way of boosting revenue - superannuation the Government said before the election it wouldn’t touch superannuation, are you saying it should break that promise?  

BURKE: Well we’ve been critical of them when they first came in and they abolished a measure that we had already announced when in Government, which dealt with some taxation on high income superannuation earners. It was a measure that was already announced, it was already there and it had already been budgeted for and they pulled it out. They have to acknowledge they have made decisions that have made the budgetary situation worse and we had the Prime Minister in Parliament last week stand up in Question Time on Thursday and simply lie. Stand up in Question Time on Thursday and claim that Labor had not voted for a single savings measure, he said we’ve opposed every savings measure. There’s more than $20 billion worth of measures that improve the budget bottom line that we’ve supported, but you know the Prime Minister thinks he can just get away with pretending none of that ever happened, at the same time that with Direct Action, Paid Parental Leave and taxation measures that they’ve given up on, they’re constantly making the situation worse.

BENSON: Tony Burke thanks very much.

BURKE: Talk to you again.


Tony Burke