SUBJECT/S: Commission of Audit Report Release; The Abbott Government’s Twisted Priorities.

SANDY ALOISI: Mr Burke, good morning.


ALOISI: And what are you expecting out of this Commission of Audit?

BURKE: Well exactly what the Government asked them to do. They asked the big business lobby to put together a roadmap for broken promises and from everything that we’ve seen, that’s exactly what they’ll be presenting to the public today, and conveniently, presenting it to the public after the Griffith by-election, after Tasmanians have voted, after South Australians have voted and after the people in WA have voted. They waited ‘till all of the elections were out of the way and now the roadmap for broken promises will become public.

ALOISI: Mark Simkin says that it’s going to be full of nasties, which of course many of our morning newspapers are predicting will happen today. What sort of measures are you expecting?

BURKE: Well I think if you go back to Tony Abbott the day before the election when he said: ‘No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no changes to pensions and no cuts to the ABC or SBS’, you can expect all of that to have been ditched by the end of today in terms of what the Government will be looking at.

ALOISI: So the Prime Minister is saying of course that he’s inherited an economy from the previous Labor Government, which requires a big stick such as we’ve been hearing about.

BURKE: If that was the case they wouldn’t have doubled the deficit as soon as they came in. In the first few months the first things that Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott did, were to add $68 billion to Australia’s deficit. So when you hear them referring to Labor’s legacy, they actually include in that a doubled deficit figure, which included changes that they made when they abandoned a whole lot of taxation measures, they sent a whole lot of money across to the Reserve Bank and at the same time they changed the parameters on which the budget had been based.

ALOISI: Well Tony Burke, the Prime Minister has been saying that we need these sorts of things, we need to share the burden in order to get our economy back to a standing where it should be. Are these the sorts of the measures perhaps that the Labor Government should have considered and even undertaken in its last term of government?

BURKE: What you’re seeing are the priorities of this government, that’s what you’re seeing. There’s a reason why they wanted to manufacture a budget emergency, there’s a reason why they wanted to double the deficit, and that’s that the priorities that they have, and this is why we’ve been calling them twisted priorities, the priorities they have do involve causing a whole lot of pain for people at the lower end of the financial spectrum, for families that are working people on lower incomes, and this whole manufactured emergency has been for one simple reason, and that’s to get big business to write a report that would leave a whole lot of benefits for them and a whole lot of cuts at the lower end of the income spectrum.

ALOISI: But is it the case that politicians should do the best for the country regardless of the politics, and I ask because of a speech that Jeff Kennett delivered last night where he basically berated politicians for not having the guts to get out there and do what they should. He said they shouldn’t be too frightened to break promises if it was for the good of the country. Is that something that you as a politician would support?

BURKE: All the information that Tony Abbott has now, was available to him when he made those promises. When they talk about what was the future funding profile for example on the National Disability Insurance Scheme or on the Gonski education reforms, that was all public, that was all available for them. Joe Hockey talks as though the information on ageing population is brand new, and the figures that he refers to were in the Intergenerational Report that came out in 2010. Jeff Kennett talks about a situation where there’s brand new information you didn’t have before. What this Government’s doing is dealing with facts that were all in the public field – they still made promises right up until the day before the election and today they’ll be publicly releasing a roadmap to break them.

ALOISI: Just finally Tony Burke, one of the recommendations is expected to be putting the family home in the pension assets test, would you support that?

BURKE: There’s a reason why we never introduced that. You have, and with recent property movements lots of people have seen this, where you have people who’ve lived in, their whole lives, what were considered relatively modest dwellings that when particular suburbs take massive shifts in property prices, find themselves sitting, towards the end of their life, on a very large asset and to take it into account in that way and say ‘ok you’ve changed nothing but all of a sudden we’re going to start cutting your pension’, is a pathway that we deliberately chose to never to go down.

ALOISI: Alright Tony Burke I’ll leave it there, thank you for your time.

BURKE: Ok, talk to you again.



Tony Burke