15 May 2014
Transcript - #2014037, 2014

Doorstop interview, Canberra

SUBJECTS: Budget

TREASURER:

Well it has been a very long time since the Leader of the Opposition offered absolutely nothing in the form of a new policy in their response to the Budget. Bill Shorten had a chance to define new Labor, tonight he offered old Labor. He is effectively in denial about Labor's legacy and if you're in denial, you will never come up with a solution. It was all politics, no policy and no response to the debt and deficit, that is the legacy of Labor.

REPORTER:

Mr Hockey by my expert calculation, Mr Shorten's speech tonight, measures he's ruled out, plus other things we are being told – if you count petrol, there is about $18.5 billion in savings measures over the forward estimates. Do you relish the prospect now of having to deal with Clive Palmer now, or Labor and the Greens, may do a rethink?

TREASURER:

Well the first part is, he is in denial about the true state of the Budget. The second part is, he offers no solution. He said there is a Budget task but he didn't say how he was going to positively respond to it. And he is vowing to make the situation worse because he is already blocking $20 billion of savings and on top of that, there is at least $20 billion of savings he is blocking tonight. So quite obviously they are not even ready for Government. They don't believe in anything. All they had tonight was politics and no policy.

REPORTER:

It is at least two years until the next election. Unless you accept his challenge to bring on a new one and quickly, would you accept that, if you can't get these $20 billion worth of measures through the Senate?

TREASURER:

Well we have to put up what the right policies are for the country. We have to put up policies that are going to fix the mess that Labor left. That is what we're doing. It is not easy, it is difficult but you would think that a new Labor leader, after the massive defeat they had at the last election would try to redefine his party and focus on what needs to be done to make up lost ground in relation to economic credibility. Now as I said, it has been a very long time since you have had a Leader of the Opposition that offered nothing in the form of new policy, even after the election defeat that we had in 2007. In 2008 Brendan Nelson offered changes in relation to fuel excise, ironically, I suppose, but he offered them as a policy that we had discussed at that time. Now Bill Shorten offered nothing tonight and I really can't remember something like that.

REPORTER:

But he has also failed to mention the deficit levy – is that a sign that Labor is prepared to work that one through the Senate?

TREASURER:  

God knows, because they said they were going to oppose it a week ago. So you would need to ask him. I think they are very confused about what they believe in and they're obviously very confused about what they are going to support.

REPORTER:

When you say he is blocking $20 billion in measures, do you mean $20 billion based on what he said tonight because…

TREASURER:

That is in addition…

REPORTER:

Is there doubt about whether they would oppose every single aspect of the Family Tax Benefit changes?

TREASURER:

Well this is it. Just gleaning from what they said tonight, there is billions of dollars they are now going to oppose in new savings but we have $20 billion in savings sitting up in the Senate that the Labor Party are blocking, including $5 billion that they themselves took to the election. So not only is he blocking his own previous savings, not only is he blocking our existing savings, he is going to block our future savings and somehow he thinks magically, that the numbers are going to improve. I say to you 'she will be right' is not a policy solution to the Budget crisis that Labor left. 'She will be right' is not a policy option but only for Bill Shorten does it sound credible.

REPORTER:

But your policies aren't an option either if you can't get them through the Senate in terms of fixing the Budget so would you go…

TREASURER:

Let's just see wait and see, you are going three steps ahead. Let's deal with the first step which is the policy response tonight.

REPORTER:

In 2008, and Brendan Nelson's same Budget in Reply, he also outlined $22 billion in policies the Opposition would impose. Do you accept that there is time for Labor - they might be politicking at this stage and it might be a different picture in three years' time?

TREASURER:

Well Brendan Nelson in that speech, which I just read, offered a policy, a positive policy!

REPORTER:

Which would have cost more money?

TREASURER:

The fact is, he offered a positive policy and you would think that a Leader of the Opposition would at least put down one policy proposal. I mean I even remember Mark Latham putting down one in relation to kids - young children's education. I can remember a lot of the individual responses, last year Tony Abbott said there is a Budget crisis and he put down savings of $5 billion a year, including the abolition of the Schoolkids Bonus, which Bill Shorten said tonight he is going to keep. It is just, his statements don't add up. They make the Budget deficit and debt worse and he offered nothing which is something I haven't seen before - I haven't seen it for a long time.

REPORTER:

He's telling families that they don't have to wear the pain that you say they do. How do you convince them they need to accept the measurers that you've put forward?

TREASURER:

Well, the fact is there are no easy choices here, there are no easy solutions. He could have offered just one saving; instead he is making the situation that is his legacy far worse. The $123 billion deficit, $667 billion of debt, according to him tonight, it is just going to be far worse. Now, he says he is going to restore $80 billion to the long term funding of schools and hospitals; he's got to show where he is getting the money from. There was no offer there tonight. It was quite an extraordinary display. It was big on rhetoric, big on politics, but there was just no policy and certainly there was a failure to recognise the problem.

REPORTER:

He calls the $80 billion a broken promise, is it?

TREASURER:

No.

REPORTER:

Why not?

TREASURER:

Well for a start, we said that we weren't going to keep Gonski for more than four years. That's the start of it, and in addition we are giving them $400 billion and we are giving them well over $1 trillion for the next ten years. So quite frankly we're growing funding for schools and hospitals, just not as fast as what Labor suggested they would do, but of course they were never going to do that because they could never find the money and tonight just illustrates the point.