HOST: But let's talk to the Opposition Finance Spokesperson, Tony Burke joins us now for his thoughts. Tony, Good morning.

TONY BURKE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCE: Good morning. Welcome to Belmore.

HOST: Great to be with you in Belmore. Is it a good morning? I mean, what's been your reaction and your party's reaction to the audit commission?

BURKE: Well, the report is exactly the report that Tony Abbott wanted. It's what he requested, it's what he got and it's effectively a blue print on ways of breaking pretty much every election promise that he took to the election and it's all in the context of a budget emergency claim that even the author of the report yesterday acknowledged Australia doesn't have.

HOST: Tony, in regards to the audit report, it basically said the country's on the long road to ruin and our very future of the country is at risk. This is all basically about the fact that the country has spent more than its earnt. Now recently, there was a Parliamentary Budget Office that said Government spending under Labor, not under the Liberal Party, rose amongst 50 per cent faster than the actual economy was growing. So I guess it's, with both Labor and Liberal have spent more than we have earnt, not just the Liberal Party's fault here. 

BURKE: The only time during the last period of the Labor Government that we went beyond a two per cent growth in spending was during the Global Financial Crisis and that was to keep Australia out of recession. From 2009 on, spending was always within the two per cent budget cap. And what's happened, at the end of last of year when Joe Hockey first became Treasurer, he got rid of the budget cap, got rid of the two per cent budget cap, doubled the deficit then said ‘oh look if you get rid of the budget cap on spending, spending goes out of control’. Well, of course is does but that's something the Government actually chose to do to make it look like the budget was in crisis. And the Parliament budget figures that you’ve referred to don't take into account the years from 2009 on. They include the Global Financial Crisis period and that's why you get the numbers you referred to.

HOST: When you look at these recommendations, are there any in there that you guys would agree with that are probably beneficial suggested cuts?

BURKE: The Government's had the report for a couple of months. We’ve had it for a few hours at this point, so I'm not going to knock them all out. Certainly there's three principles that we’ll be applying as we work through them. The impact on the budget, whether or not they're fair, and how they fit in with the Government's promises, and certainly, you can't look at this report and keep to what Tony Abbott said, which is that there would be no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no changes to pensions, no new taxes. If this, if any of this gets implemented, then what the Prime Minister said before the election is well and truly dead and buried.

HOST: So do you think we need to tighten our belt as a country? Do you think we need these cuts or do you think it's all made up that we're on the long road to ruin?

BURKE: Well long road to ruin certainly is pretty melodramatic. Every budget will involve tough decisions and that’s a given, that happens every budget. But to think that we need to axe the Gonski school reforms, to think that we need to effectively abolish Medicare and leave nothing but the green and gold logo for Medicare, and get rid of universal health, this is something that the Government would only do if it was their priority to get rid of Medicare, if it was their priority to hurt pensioners and change the pension rates. If they want to do that they’ll do it, but let's make no mistake at all, there's not a budget emergency demanding that you get these sorts of savage cuts and twisted priorities.

HOST: So you're saying there isn't a ballooning debt that we need to address fairly quickly?

BURKE: There was always for the, since 2009, a cap on spending growth of two per cent, and that was there. And that made sure - look, countries with budget emergencies don't get triple-A credit ratings from all three agencies, Australia has. If your budget’s in real problems, you don't introduce a paid parental leave where, you know, somebody on a big salary for six months get paid more than double what a pensioner gets in a year. If your budget is in crisis, you don't throw money at those sorts of projects.

HOST: Tony, thanks for your time this morning. Will be fascinating to see exactly what comes out in the budget in 12 days’ time, and I'm sure we might give you a call then to get your response. Appreciate your time.

BURKE: Good to talk.


Tony Burke