Transcript by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

DisabilityCare Australia; Budget 2013-14; Doorstop, Melbourne

Joint Transcript with:

The Hon Wayne Swan MP
Deputy Prime Minster

SUBJECTS: DisabilityCare Australia; Budget 2013-14; Structural Budget Balance; Liberal Party attacks on Treasury

MACKLIN: Thanks so much for joining us at Yooralla today. I’m very, very pleased to be joined by the Treasurer of Australia, Wayne Swan and the Labor candidate for the seat of Melbourne in the upcoming election, Cath Bowtell.

This time one year ago the Treasurer and I were here, celebrating $1 billion to start the National Disability Insurance Scheme in Australia. This year, we’re here celebrating at Yooralla the start of DisabilityCare Australia and the securing of $14.3 billion to secure the future of DisabilityCare right out into the future. Thank you to the Treasurer, thank you to the Prime Minister on behalf of people with a disability right around Australia for making the National Disability Insurance Scheme, DisabilityCare Australia real.

TREASURER: Thanks very much Jenny. It is a pleasure to be here, it was a year ago that we were here talking about a trial and the commitment of $1 billion to get this up and running. Only 12 months later we’re here to celebrate the creation of DisabilityCare Australia. This is a defining event in the life of our nation. This is a public policy which will make an enormous difference to so many people in our community and it has brought all Australians together. Because, wherever I move in the community, whoever you’re talking to, wherever they come from, what region they’re from, or wherever they are Australians understand the need for this scheme and the need to get behind people with disability.

So it is a real pleasure to be here today to see the great work that has been done by all of the people here today. People who have been out there, arguing for a fundamental change. Their faith and the purpose of public life has been rewarded by the creation of this scheme in the national parliament and its funding in the Budget, so it is a big occasion in the life of our nation. Of course, when it kicks off, when the trial sites start on the 1st of July we get down to the hard work of making it a reality on the ground. So it’s good to be here at Yooralla to talk to all of the people here today who are celebrating the creation of this once in a generation opportunity to make our country a better place.

JOURNALIST: Treasurer, if we could just turn to other matters. The Coalition’s Mathias Cormann this morning said Martin Parkinson’s comments about Budget numbers. How do you justify the revenue forecast for the mining tax when it is so much higher than the figures released so far?

TREASURER: There are no excuses left for Mr Hockey and Mr Cormann. The Secretary of the Treasury made it very clear yesterday that the forecasts in the Budget are the forecasts presented by the Treasury. They will be the forecast anyone else sitting in my seat would receive from our professional advisors. There has been a despicable attempt by the Liberals to sully the reputation of the Treasury by reflecting on the forecasts. Martin Parkinson made it very clear yesterday that these are professional forecasts prepared by the forecasters who provided forecasts for the Liberals when they were in government. So, no excuses left for Mr Hockey, today he can provide the costings because he has the professional forecasts of the Treasury and he has no excuses left. Today he should detail all of their costings.

JOURNALIST: The Opposition says that the numbers will be different if the Department was left to its own devices. What do they mean by that?

TREASURER: This is a profound insult to Treasury officials. Secretary Parkinson made it very clear yesterday that these forecasts have been provided by the Treasury to the Government. They are there in the Budget papers. This is the bottom line that the Treasury has put forward, their best professional forecasts, and they [Mr Hockey and Mr Cormann] are out there reflecting on those forecasts and reflecting adversely on Treasury officials when they make these sorts of despicable claims because what they are basically doing is running down professional public servants, who not only worked for this Government, but also worked for the Liberals when they were previously in Government.

What’s this all about? What this is all about is they have a hidden agenda which they want to hide from the Australian people and skate through an election. If they are elected, not tell the Australian people what that agenda is. That agenda is for cuts to the bone in health and education and slashing jobs right around Australia. So they are reflecting on the forecasts because they don’t want the Australian people to know what they are going to do if they’re elected. They are just following the Campbell Newman model which is to skate your way through an election, have an audit commission and then use that commission to cut and burn after the election.

JOURNALIST: Mr Swan, talking about the Treasury forecasts, why don’t you release structural forecasts under Statement 4?

TREASURER: Well I said yesterday that we would have a discussion paper on the structural balance and that discussion paper will be out soon.

JOURNALIST: With the declining tax base to the country, are you prepared to raise tax to pay for more social services?

TREASURER: We’ve made all our forecasts, they are there in the Budget; they are sustainable over time. No other government in our history has done what we have done in this recent Budget, which is bring the Budget back to surplus over time, consistent with policies that support jobs and growth, but also to make room in our Budget for these big structural reforms like DisabilityCare, and of course funding the School Improvement Program, by making savings and funding these over a ten year period. No other government in our history has done that and I’m really proud of it

JOURNALIST: The Parliamentary Budget Office says there is structural deficit since 2007-08 because of reasons like income tax cuts and petrol excise. Was it a mistake to cut income tax cuts?

TREASURER: I’ve had a brief look at that material from the Parliamentary Budget Office and what it shows is that the structural deficit started as far back as 2001-02 and really accelerated under the final years of the Howard Costello Government when they went on a spending spree and they spent like drunken sailors. Of course, since that time, we’ve been putting in place $300 billion of structural saves, to support our Budget, to provide for good fiscal policy and to make room in the Budget for fundamental schemes to change our nation, like DisabilityCare and the School Improvement Program. We’re proud of that, we’ve done the right thing in terms of fiscal responsibility for the long-term, and we’ve done the right thing by the people that are here today when it comes to DisabilityCare. We’re doing the right thing by the parents of Australia and their kids to invest in their education for the long-term.

JOURNALIST: Treasurer, if tax rates had stayed the same would there [inaudible]?

TREASURER: We have put in place a range of tax changes over time which have provided significant benefit to low and middle income earners in our community and we’re proud of those. For example, one of the defining reforms of this Government is the tripling of the tax-free threshold which has been of enormous benefit to people on low and modest incomes in our community. It’s meant they’ve had more money in their hand and it’s given them incentive to go to work, to participate in the labour force. We’re proud of those tax cuts, we’re proud of the role they play in enhancing workforce participation and rewarding the hard work of so many millions of Australians who make our country strong.

Thank you.