The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of Chris Bowen

Chris Bowen

Minister for Financial Services, Superannuation and Corporate Law

9 June 2009 - 14 September 2010

Transcript of 04/12/2009

Doorstop Interview

Fairfield

Friday, 4 December 2009

SUBJECTS: Tony Abbott, means testing, stimulus, National Broadband Network, NSW politics, double dissolution, ETS, economy.

CHRIS BOWEN:

Well, today we've seen more policy on the run from the Leader of the Opposition. More irresponsible thought bubbles from Mr Abbott. We know from a couple of days ago that Mr Abbott supports removing the means test on a range of family payments; means tests that were introduced by this Government. Removing those means tests will cost $3 billion over the next four years. From this morning's Financial Review, we know that Mr Abbott's plan to pay for this and other policies is to raid the stimulus and the National Broadband Network.

Now, there's a number of points to make about this. Firstly, both the Government's stimulus and the National Broadband Network are capital expenditure. If Mr Abbott plans to pay for recurrent expenditure by cutting capital expenditure this is a very worrying trend, a very worrying sign, for the economic management credentials of the Opposition.

Secondly, Mr Abbott needs to reveal just what he will cut. Which schools will not receive their new infrastructure? Which parts of the stimulus package will he cut? Which communities will he deny fast and efficient broadband access? This is the challenge for Mr Abbott. He's now the Leader of the Opposition. He is no longer entitled to thought bubbles.

When he makes a policy pronouncement, it is the policy for the Liberal Party. When he makes a policy pronouncement which costs money, he needs to explain how he will pay for it. Will he increase taxes? Will he reduce Government expenditure? Or will he increase the size of the Budget deficit? Mr Abbott promising to pay for ongoing expenditure by cutting one-off capital expenditure shows he is not on top of the details of Liberal Party policy, not on top of the important task of providing alternative policy.

We're seeing more irresponsible thought bubbles from Mr Abbott. He needs to reveal how he will pay for his outlandish schemes.

Happy to take some questions.

JOURNALIST:

The Prime Minister showed his support for Nathan Rees last week and now will Federal Labor be supporting Kristina Keneally?

BOWEN:

I have only one comment to make on State politics and that is this: as a citizen of New South Wales, as a Cabinet Minister in the Federal Government from New South Wales, I would hope that the New South Wales Government will focus on service delivery, service delivery for the people of New South Wales, not on internal party mechanisms. Kristina Keneally is now the Premier. I hope the Caucus and the Government get behind her and also concentrate much more on delivery of services to the people of New South Wales rather than internal party matters.

JOURNALIST:

Has the relationship between the Federal and State Government now changed? Rudd was saying yesterday that they needed to shape up, now they've ousted Rees. Is this going to affect the relationship in any way?

BOWEN:

As far as the New South Wales Government is concerned, our relationship both with the New South Wales Government and other State Governments is focused on delivering services, on improving service delivery for the Australian people. That will remain the case with New South Wales, it will remain the case with all other states and territories.

JOURNALIST:

Is the Federal Government considering a double dissolution?

BOWEN:

The Prime Minister has made very clear that our strategy is to focus on delivering an ETS and delivering on all our policies across the board. Delivering on the economic policies, which are seeing Australia through the worst global financial crisis in 75 years. That remains our focus.

Thanks very much for coming out.