24 June 2015
Transcript - #2015149, 2015

Doorstop interview, Canberra

TREASURER:

Alrighty, over to you.

JOURNALIST:

Can I just ask on the fuel excise yesterday. The Australian Automobile Association says that motorists are already paying enough tax when it comes to fuel. What’s your response on that first Treasurer?

TREASURER:

Well look, this is a hugely important structural saving. The Australian Government is spending more on roads than any previous Australian Government. Roads are essential infrastructure and because we inherited a very large deficit and we have to raise the money that helps to build the roads of the 21st century, the changes to fuel excise will help us in that regard.

Every single dollar of extra revenue raised through the indexation of fuel excise is going to road construction. And nothing else strikes it better than the agreement we came to with the Labor Party.

JOURNALIST:

Were you quite surprised by Bill Shorten’s announcement yesterday?

TREASURER:

No, the Labor Party is being mugged by reality. They’re being mugged by the reality that the Budget needs to be repaired, and they’ve got to help us to fix the mess that they created.

JOURNALIST:

Is Australia a safe haven for corrupt funds from PNG and what’s being done to stop it?

TREASURER:

Well I certainly hope not and in the Budget I announced a further $127 million to strengthen the resources for the investigative taskforce into the unlawful flow of money into Australia from corruption, corrupt money into Australia.

JOURNALIST:

Do you agree with Tony Abbott’s comments that the ABC’s Q&A program is a lefty lynch mob and would you like to see the show cancelled until there’s a review?

TREASURER:

Everyone’s got a considered view on this. From my perspective, I think everything that has been said should be left - having been said. I want to emphasise – I think Australians were collectively appalled at the behaviour, in fact Tony Jones was as well, appalled at the behaviour on Q&A. But jeez, it does raise massive security issues for the ABC and more generally, and I think the ABC has an obligation like every broadcaster in Australia, to ensure that we get the balance right between freedom of speech and ensuring that people who want to do harm to others are not given an open microphone.

JOURNALIST:

Do you sympathise with the mother of Tara Nettleton, the wife of Khaled Sharrouf, she’s made a plea to the Prime Minister this morning to let her daughter and their children come home?

TREASURER:

Look, I’ll leave that to others to talk about that particular case. It’s not for me to talk about particular cases.

JOURNALIST:

How confident are you of Greece getting a deal tomorrow night in Europe, and if they don’t, what’s the ramifications for Australia?

TREASURER:

Look, I am confident that the Europeans have been carefully managing what’s happening in Greece. I have been in constant contact with Finance Ministers in Europe, but also more broadly about the management of Greece’s potential failure to meet their repayments. I call on the Greek Government to actively participate in programs that are going to help to restructure their debt obligations or meet their existing debt obligations. It is something that has taken up a lot of behind the scenes time for a lot of people, and the starting point has to be the good will of the Greek Government in coming to the table and being prepared to meet their legal obligations to repay money to the rest of the world, the IMF in particular, but also to other European nations.

JOURNALIST:

Are there any ramifications for Australia though if they don’t?

TREASURER:

I am confident that they are being properly managed. I am very confident that the issues in Greece are being properly managed by Finance Ministers in Europe in particular, but obviously the IMF is very involved as well , and I’m being constantly kept up to date on that.

JOURNALIST:

Just back to the ABC. What do you make of Julia Gillard’s comments that in fact, the ABC has gone soft on the Abbott Government and that it’s held back on hard hitting analysis, out of fear of coming under attack?

TREASURER:

Well I haven’t heard that commentary. But I find it very hard to believe.

JOURNALIST:

Will we be seeing you on Q&A again?

TREASURER:

Well I do go on Q&A and it is an opportunity to speak directly to over a million people, but there’s also an obligation for the producers and the presenter to ensure that you get the balance right between freedom of speech and the security of the nation. They’ve got an obligation in that regard and clearly they failed on Monday night.

JOURNALIST:

Would now be an opportune time to go to an election for the Government in your view?

TREASURER:

No, we worked damn hard to get here, and we’ve still got much work to do.

JOURNALIST:

Can you rule out that you will not go to an election this year?

TREASURER:

You’ll need to ask the Prime Minister that question. But I’m sure he, like all of us wants to get on with the job of good government and get on with the job of building a stronger, more secure and more prosperous Australia.