KIERAN GILBERT: We’re going to look at the day ahead in politics now we’ve got the Manager of Opposition Business, Tony Burke here. Tony Burke well the week has been dominated last couple of days certainly about the budget blockage. Chris Richardson a respected economist from Deloitte Access Economics says that the Senate’s position on the budget could cost the bottom line $300 billion over the next decade.


TONY BURKE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCE: The most bizarre thing with what we’ve seen in the Government’s handling of the Budget, is at the moment their prioritizing in the Senate for the debate the bills that actually cost the budget money, so between Carbon Tax and Mining Tax. Because the Carbon Tax for example they haven’t switched to an Emissions Trading Scheme, you end up with a hit to the budget bottom line of those two combined of $16 billion. Now you add that to the revenue measures that they’ve given up on high income superannuation, what they gave up on offshore tax havens and what they want to do with the Paid Parental Leave scheme, you’ve got a situation now where everything they’re doing in the Parliament is prioritising what will blow the deficit out.

GILBERT: But made worse by Labor and the crossbench opposing the repeal of the expenditure measures attached to the Carbon Tax and the Mining Tax.

BURKE: We were always going to oppose the repeal of the SchoolKids Bonus, we were always going to oppose a circumstance where families take an up to $6000 hit. The first measure that went through with our support when they wanted to put the increase in income tax on the highest income earners. The one measure that was temporary in the whole budget, but the one measure that actually hit people at the higher income levels we supported. It wasn’t something that we would have prioritised ourselves but supported it to be responsible with the budget bottom line. But who would ever expect when you’re drafting a budget that Labor was going to support the dismantling of Medicare and the abolition of universal healthcare. Of course we weren’t, the Government knew that when they put this budget together that they were putting forward hits to the pension, they were putting forward hits to health and education that were contrary to their election promises that we were never going to support.

GILBERT: Well one thing that you were going to support in Government, in fact you proposed it, is to not go ahead with the increase in the tax free threshold which was the last part of the compensation for the Carbon Price. Well now that there won’t be a Carbon Price isn’t it irresponsible for Labor to be defending that increase in the tax free threshold?

BURKE: There are some interesting arguments from Joe Hockey on this one, he made them in the Parliament yesterday where he claimed that we had said that we would give up this increase in the tax free threshold altogether. Let’s not forget this is when people on the lowest income first start paying tax, now we had announced in our previous budget that we would defer that increase. What Joe Hockey is now wanting to do –

GILBERT: Indefinitely.

BURKE: No, no we’d given a date post the forwards when it would be deferred until, what Joe Hockey’s now come forward with is to say oh let’s just abolish it altogether and provide no tax relief for people ever on the lowest incomes. That’s what he’s wanting us to vote for. So of course he can’t just say a deferral is the same as an abolition, they’re fundamentally different and that’s the sort of word games that Joe Hockey’s wanting to play and his word games I might add after yesterday have got him into a bit of trouble as well.

GILBERT: As the Shadow Finance Minister are you worried though that this is going to hurt Labor as you try to build and re-establish economic credibility?

BURKE: We’ve always said budgets need to involve tough decisions and they always do. In our time we were involved in $180 billion worth of savings, in our time we were involved in some very tough, difficult decisions and we’ve been willing to make more of those. For example Family Tax Benefit Part B, the change in the income tests from $150,000 down to $100,000, it’s a tough measure, its got our support. We voted for that part of the changes in the Senate, but because Joe Hockey said well you’re not also going after all the other impacts that hurt people on even lower incomes therefore they haven’t accepted that part of the package and they said well it’s all or nothing from their perspective on that bill. There’s a series of measures where it doesn’t hit the people who are most needy where we’ve taken a responsible approach.

GILBERT: What about, well okay what about the fuel tax because The Australian reports this morning that the Fuel Tax is actually going to be paid for in much larger part by wealthier families and benefit areas which are less well-off through improved road infrastructure.

BURKE: Yeah I’d read that story pretty carefully, what they haven’t done in that story is actually get down to the comparison of how much of a proportion of your income you’re paying and the other thing is well yes if you’re wealthier and you’ve got multiple cars and they’re bigger cars then you’re going to pay more on petrol, but to view that as an equity measure, I’ve really got to say is a stretch. Let’s not forget the hypocrisy of a Prime Minister who campaigned relentlessly on cost of living who then the moment the election’s out of the way says ‘oh by the way every time you fill up your car with petrol we’re going to take an extra tax hike.’

GILBERT: One final question on the Parliamentary schedule, the Senate in the Parliament is going to sit longer, it’s allowed for the greater hours. This is all about trying to give the Government a chance to repeal the Carbon Tax. They had promised it, they got the mandate, isn’t Labor just delaying the inevitable here and well again I suppose politically risking blowback on an issue which the Government had the clearest of mandates on?

BURKE: No, we campaigned at the election that we would vote in the exact way that we are now voting, which is we moved amendments that would get rid of the Carbon Price as a tax and would switch to an Emissions Trading Scheme. That’s what we promised we’d do at the election, that’s how we voted. Compare that consistency to the promises Tony Abbott made before the election and what we’ve seen with this Budget.

GILBERT: Mr Burke thanks for your time.

BURKE: See you again.



Tony Burke