SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s Budget of Broken Promises and Twisted Priorities; Politicians Pay.


DEBORAH KNIGHT: Well Labor is warning of dire consequences as a result of this budget and Shadow Finance Minister Tony Burke joins us this morning. Good morning to you.


KNIGHT: So a pay freeze for politicians, not very good news for you to wake up to this morning?

BURKE: I don't think anyone would realistically believe, I mean we’ll support the measure, but I don't think anyone realistically would believe that this means Tony Abbott will be feeling the sort of pain that he is going to be inflicting on other Australians. By all means there will be a few moments in history where people focus on the impact on Members of Parliament, but the real pain here is going to be on families.

KNIGHT: Now, in terms of the measures, drastic measures are certainly needed, aren't they, because the Government does need to take stock of the budget, the situation that was left by Labor?

BURKE: I heard in the interview that Joe Hockey gave earlier he referred to having been left with a deficit figure and the figure he quoted was $123 billion. More than half of that was put there by him. That dollar amount includes all the taxation measures he threw away, it includes all the money he sent to the Reserve Bank, and it includes all the parameter variations he made when as soon as he came to office, within a few months, he had more than doubled the deficit. So what he is doing here is manufacturing a crisis so that he can then come in and claim to fix it.

LAURA TINGLE: What would Labor be doing in this situation?

BURKE: Well, every budget involves tough decisions. Every budget quite properly involves difficult decisions. But one of the key things that was changed last year, was Joe Hockey removing the two per cent cap on expenditure growth. That is why he has been able to say ‘look spending has gone out of control’. If you remove a cap on spending growth, of course spending goes up. That cap was there though when Labor was in office.

TINGLE: Would you keep it now?

BURKE: Certainly it should have been kept. It was a mistake of epic proportions and it is part of the way that Joe Hockey has ended up with projections that show massive increases in expenditure. If you cap it, those increases cannot happen.

TINGLE: What would be your guiding principal in dealing with the budget?

BURKE: Our guiding principals on any proposal are to make sure we look at the budget bottom line, we look at the impact on fairness and we look at whether or not it was a promise from the Government. There are very few measures at the moment they have been talking about that actually check out against the promises they made before the election. In particular, the promises of no new taxes and the promise from Tony Abbott right up until the day before when he was saying there’d be no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no changes to pensions

KNIGHT: So what will you block?

BURKE: Well, I think it is fair for us to see what they do and to get that in writing.

KNIGHT: There's a fair bit of detail out there already.

BURKE: Well there is, but even in that interview Joe Hockey is refusing to confirm most of it and some changes may be legislative, some changes may not be legislative. So we need to look at the precise form of it before we make those judgment calls, but it is only a couple of days before we are in a position to answer that in a much more full way.

KNIGHT: Alright well we will wait an see your response on the budget on Tuesday night. Tony Burke, thanks for your time this morning.


Tony Burke