TONY BURKE, SHADOW FINANCE MINISTER AND MANAGER OF OPPOSITION BUSINESS: Thanks very much for being here today and welcome to Campsie. A number of the news crews I note have not made it yet and I’m starting 20 minutes later than I intended for a very good reason, news crews right at the moment are caught in the happiest traffic jam of all, which is people who are packed in at the moment attending the Campsie Food Festival, one of the happiest days in the local calendar around here in the Canterbury part of Sydney.

There are two very serious issues that I need to refer to today. The first goes to an extraordinary leak from Tony Abbott’s Cabinet and a leak on an issue the Prime Minister has been referring to as a national security issue. To see something of this order is quite ground breaking. The level of detail we’ve seen today involves more detail in the newspaper than would be kept in many of the Cabinet minutes. It also needs to be noted, what the members of Tony Abbott’s Cabinet have now realised, is the same as what the Australian people have already worked out, and that is every commitment he gave before the election is now untrue. 

People should remember it’s not long ago Tony Abbott was still talking about there being a 10 day rule for Cabinet; about there being an orderly process for Cabinet; about people having the opportunity to be properly briefed. We see from today’s reports on a national security issue, the discussion began and even the members of Cabinet at the table didn’t have a document in front of them. Only three people knew about the document that was being spoken about when the Cabinet discussion commenced. This is an erratic Prime Minister leading a dysfunctional and divided Cabinet and on national security issues we do need better than that. 

There are further reports in the papers today that reaffirm under this Government, for all the talk of debt and deficit, the longer they’re in, the worse those issues are becoming. We saw in the last Budget, in the space of 12 months Joe Hockey has managed to double the deficit. Net debt for Australia is now the highest it’s been in the history of the nation. In the reports that are out today we see the prospect of that blowing out even further. It needs to be remembered here that decisions you take on improving the Budget bottom line are judgment calls that are made, priorities that are set. 

As long as this Government continues to believe the only way to improve the Budget bottom line is to hurt middle and lower income Australians, then they will continue to find opposition and fierce opposition. As long as this Government believes the only measures you can look at involve massive broken promises like a hike on petrol tax, which is the biggest component of those figures, then there will continue to be opposition both within the parliament and throughout the broader community. 

Labor at the Budget ensured the passage of more than $20 billion worth of improvements to the Budget bottom line. We’ve put forward a further set of proposals, which have been rejected out of hand by the Government on multinational tax and on high income superannuation tax concessions. Those measures have been put forward by us, they would improve the Budget bottom line by more than a further $20 billion into the decade. These sorts of decisions are made because we want to improve the Budget bottom line. But they were rejected out of hand by a Government that doesn’t know how to do anything other than play politics. 

Thank you very much.

Tony Burke