11 February 2015
Transcript - #2015021, 2015

Doorstop interview, Canberra

REPORTER:

[Inaudible] Treasurer, are you heartened by Peter Costello’s comments that you must persevere with Budget measures so you don’t break the country and break the Budget?

TREASURER:

There is no choice, there is no choice. If we do not get on with the job in partnership with the Labor Party, the Greens and the independents, in getting savings through the Senate, then Australia will never get back to surplus; we’ll never live within our means and there is no easy path, there is no easy path. Currently, we are spending $100 million a day more than we are collecting in revenue and we have to borrow that money every single day. We have to borrow $100 million just to pay our bills and that’s the equivalent of two new schools over a week. It is the equivalent of a new teaching hospital [inaudible]. It’s, every day, the equivalent of 14 kilometers of new road. So, there is no choice. We actually have to fix the Budget and it is a mess that was created by Labor and I expect that they will come to the party and help us to address that problem.

REPORTER:

Mr Hockey, just on higher education for example, we heard Christopher Pyne say, in the last two weeks, that he’ll try and get these reforms through with the Senate crossbench until March. If not, he’ll listen to the will of the Senate. So, that would suggest to me that that would be dropped if there is still no pathway through the Senate. Is that correct?

TREASURER:

I am not sure what your interpretation is…

REPORTER:

What’s your interpretation?

TREASURER:

My interpretation is we need to deliver these changes in order to strengthen the Budget and to strengthen the higher education system. Now, I think it is unfair that someone that never goes to university actually pays for 60 per cent of the fees of someone that does go to university. I think that is unfair. I think it is fairer to have a 50/50 share. I think it is also fairer to have 30,000 low-income Australians, who have the capacity to go to university, paid for under our scheme. I think that’s fair as well. Now, lots of people have been defining what fairness and unfairness is. I think it is unfair that someone on average weekly earnings is paying for me, for many of you, to go and visit the doctor for free. I think you and I should make a contribution when we go to the doctor so that those who are most vulnerable, such as pensioners and children, don’t have to pay a cent.

REPORTER:

Treasurer, could you please put to rest this claim with regard to Malcolm Turnbull being a candidate for your job as far back as December; is there any truth in that – or are you aware of any truth in that claim?

TREASURER:

No.

REPORTER:

Treasurer, you said back in December that there was no time for any [inaudible] process on submarines. What changed between then and this week when we’ve heard there is time after all [inaudible]?

TREASURER:

No, you are misinterpreting my remarks from December.

REPORTER:

So, this is a $20 billion project; is it right that it should be handled by the Department of Defence or should the competitive process be outsourced to a third party as would happen in a regular tender process?

TREASURER:

This is about the defence of the nation. If you can’t trust the Department of Defence to give you advice, I mean, who do you go to? McDonalds or Hungry Jacks to [inaudible] a tender. I mean, it is just bizarre.

REPORTER:

On the Budget and your political problems with the Budget, do you accept that had you been more upfront before the election about the specific areas which needed to be targeted, you would have more of a mandate and you would have, maybe more, public sympathy for what you are trying to do?

TREASURER:

If only the Labor Party had of been more upfront about the true state of the Budget. In the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook…

REPORTER:

[Inaudible] PEFO wrong, was it?

TREASURER:

Well, yes it was, because it didn’t properly account for various losses that needed to be addressed and various capital replenishments such as the Reserve Bank that needed to be addressed. Okay, last question.

REPORTER:

Why aren’t you worried that Malcom Turnbull – that there were reports Malcolm Turnbull…

TREASURER:

Guys, get over the gossip. Focus on the nation. Thanks.