Transcript of interview with Eddie McGuire & Mick Molloy, Triple M Melbourne
WED 09 MAY 2012
Subject(s): Budget 2012-13
HOST: Julia Gillard joins us, good morning Prime Minister.
PM: Good morning Eddie.
HOST: How are you?
PM: I’m very well indeed.
HOST: Prime Minister, I know you’re doing 300 of these interviews so we won’t muck around with you. On the Budget last night, can I just take you through as you’ve looked no doubt, for some reason when it gets to budget time it’s carte-blanche for cartoonists, who take over the paper. And if I could just run you through in the Herald Sun today has you and Wayne Swan on the front, and their tone is that this is a budget to gamble to win votes back, The Age has got Wayne Swan in the Masterchef setup as if he’s blown up the kitchen just to get a surplus regardless of anything else. I can’t quite figure out theAustralian Financial Review, but The Australian has gone, they’ve got you with the hammer and sickle and the headline ‘Smash the rich, save the base.’
HOST: It’s not like them at all.
HOST: No. Prime Minister, could I ask you what was the intention of this budget, when you go in obviously you’ve got all the different figures and things, what was the intention when you sat down to frame this budget six months ago with the Treasurer. What was it that you wanted to achieve?
PM: We wanted to achieve two things Eddie. We wanted to bring the budget to surplus because that’s the right thing for our economy now. I think most people know we’ve come out of the Global Financial Crisis so much better than countries overseas.
We protected jobs, we didn’t go into recession, and so we’ve got our economy returning to trend growth, and so you’ve got to get the budget into surplus. That gives us a buffer for the future, and it also means the Reserve Bank’s got the maximum room to move on interest rates, and they moved last week and that’s good news for Australian families.
So, surplus number one, then number two, spreading the benefits of the boom right throughout Australia. And this package, the budget, has been aimed to help families who are on low- to middle-incomes, who have got all of the costs of getting the kids to school, so that’s why there’s a new Schoolkids’ Bonus - $410 for primary school students, $820 for secondary school students because the uniforms, the shoes, the pens, the paper, everything else costs so much money to get the kids to school. And there will be relief too in the form of increased family payments, so if you’ve got two children you’ll get an extra $600 in those payments.
HOST: Prime Minister, we’ve had some callers this morning saying ‘yeah, that’s great, we accept that and we’re not going to hand that back, good on you, thank you for giving that’, but was there a thought that maybe we need to, instead of giving $600 to every family, put that money collectively into schools as we had with the Education Revolution which despite all the criticism, when you drive around town and you see gyms up, and fantastic infrastructure put into schools, that this is maybe a better way of doing it. To push the economy going through and leave a tangible result, rather than $600 that will probably get paid on the gas bill?
PM: Well we’re doing both, Eddie. I mean we’ve almost doubled the amount of money going into schools, and we’re continuing to invest heavily in schools in this budget. So if you look across the life of the Government and into this budget, we’ve been huge investors in school education, early childhood education, big new skills package in this budget flowing from the last budget, you know, more apprenticeships, more opportunities for young people, and certainly more university places. We’re growing our universities because we know that in the future economy people will need higher and higher levels of skill.
So we’re big investors in skills, big investors in infrastructure, they’re important to the long-term productivity and prosperity of our country, but right now too, we get it that around the nation people go ‘I understand the Australian economy is strong, I reckon it’s a lot better than overseas, but as I sit in my home talking to my family, I don’t feel like I’m a beneficiary of this resources boom. Where’s this resources boom, it doesn’t seem to be my boom.’ So we want to share the proceeds of the boom with families who are struggling to make ends meet. So, if you’ve got a couple of kids, one in primary school, one in high school, between the school kids’ bonus and the new family payments you can expect to see $1830.
HOST: Prime Minister, we’ve had a lot of calls this morning, it’s a tough job the budget to try and please everyone. I think the most outraged that we’ve had on Triple M though has been over the increase in price in bacon. What have you done to bacon?
PM: Look my understanding here is-
HOST: It’s a disgrace by the way. Absolute disgrace.
PM: I did understand that last night on Twitter this was a very interesting thing, out of all of the budget measures. My understanding is that there’s a small increase in a levy associated with our pork industry, because they want to put some more money into research. So I don’t think people need to get too anxious about the price of bacon.
HOST: Prime Minister, I think it’s a lukewarm budget, personally I like the old days when the front of the paper the next day just simply said ‘Beers up, cigs up.’ They were the best budgets in the history of the world. Can you deliver?
PM: I’m sorry I’ve disappointed you Mick by not putting the price of beer up, but no you can’t write a ‘beer up’ headline for this budget.
HOST: Prime Minister, we have to ask you as well, the budget comes out, these are the things that we want politicians to do and work and regardless of which side of politics you’re on it could be one for business one for the families, that comes in ebbs and flows with the electoral cycle. But does it, do you just shake your head sometimes when you’ve got these other galahs in the Parliament that keep blowing things up around you and it just makes getting the job done that much harder when every day is hijacked by Peter Slipper or Campbell and these other clowns?
PM: I’m not much given to shaking my head, Eddie, I’m just someone who gets on with the job, and I’ve been very determined to work with Wayne Swan to deliver this budget. It’s so important to our economy now and so important to families now, so I haven’t let anything distract me from that, just getting on with the job.
It does frustrate me in the Parliament when we see negativity, and you know, more likely than not we see that coming from the Opposition where they just say no to everything. And I do note the Opposition’s already out and about - just can’t accept that our nation has achieved this remarkable thing, the surplus in these circumstances, so soon after the Global Financial Crisis, and despite continued turbulence in the global economy.
HOST: The big sell for you now is the carbon tax, Prime Minister. Every Herald Sun little caption today, alongside the families that have been picked out regarding their thoughts on the budget, everyone’s carbon tax, carbon tax, carbon tax as we go into winter. How’s the sell going to be on that to get people across the line? It’s obviously a big thing the greening of Australia at the last election, and the election before that, but when it comes to actually forking out the dough people aren’t that keen. How are you going to sell the carbon tax in the next little bit?
PM: I think a lot of fear has been generated and when people actually see what carbon pricing means, they’ll see that the scare campaign was just that, a way of making them afraid, but not something informed by the facts.
In the coming weeks people will see increase in their family payments, people will see that turn up into their bank accounts, that’s to support them as we move to carbon pricing on 1 July, and then if you earn less than $80,000 a year you’ll see a tax cut from 1 July, and what that all adds up to is millions of families will actually come out in front because they’ve received more through increased family payments or tax cuts, or for older people pension increases, than the impact of carbon pricing on them.
HOST: Prime Minister, I like the significance of a surplus at a time in Europe where there isn’t any austerity measures getting through, but the Opposition will say that that only exists in some Treasury computer and the likelihood of it actually coming to fruition is zero. How accurate can you be with the numbers?
PM: When you look at the budget, I mean I’d expect the Opposition to be negative so let’s just, you know, accept that and put that to one side, that’s definitely going to happen, but our determination to return the budget to surplus I think should be measured against this. We’re returning the budget to surplus in the coming financial year in 2012-13.
Since last budget, the amount of revenue we’re getting in that financial year has gone down by almost $10 billion, and instead of just saying ‘well let’s give it all away, you can’t get a surplus in a circumstance where revenues are going down by almost $10 billion’, we said no, we’re still going to get the budget to surplus, we’ve made $34 billion of savings across the full budget period – four years – and that builds on top of $100 billion we’ve done in the past, and $11.5 billion of savings we did late last year in the mid-year outlook.
So we have been incredibly determined, incredibly focussed, to make the tough decisions necessary to get the budget to surplus.
HOST: Prime Minister, thank you for joining us this morning.
PM: Thank you very much Eddie.
HOST: We’ll let you go and talk to all the other nice, quiet interviewers who’ll wrestle you over every decimal point and all the rest of it, we can read all this. All our listeners understand where it is because they are the ones who feel it every day with their families. Is there one line you can leave on the way out to the next interview that you’ll be doing right around the country for the people on Triple M, 25-54 demographic, number one in the ratings in Melbourne, but the point I’m making there is that they’re driving to work this morning and they want to know what this Government’s doing for them. Can you just leave them with one last statement for them?
PM: One last statement, for the people listening to you Eddie, that we’re bringing the budget to surplus, that’s good for the economy, good for jobs and growth, and we’re putting more money into their family budgets because we understand so many of them are doing it tough.
HOST: Thank you Prime Minister.
PM: Thanks very much.