19 December 2013

Interview with Nicole Dyer, ABC 612, Morning Program

Note
SUBJECT: MYEFO 2013-14

This is a transcript of the PST's interview with Nicole Dyer on ABC 612, Morning Program. The main topic discussed was MYEFO 2013-14.

DYER:

Joining me first up, Steve Ciobo, Federal Member for Moncrieff, Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer. Mr Ciobo, good morning.

CIOBO:

Good morning Nicole.

DYER:

One of the big election promises was to bring the budget back into surplus, back into the black, now Prime Minister Tony Abbott is saying next year's budget will put us back onto a path to a sustainable surplus. Why the change of wording?

CIOBO:

Well that's your change of wording. The reality is that since we've been elected we've started now to see and understand the full extent of the economic legacy that has been left to this government by Labor. The fact is we've been in power now just a fraction over 100 days and we've now had an opportunity to see, based on the updated national accounts, the legacy Labor's left behind in terms of debt and deficit. We've got serious work to do. We know that's going to take time and we're steeled for the challenge.

DYER:

So voters maybe going, you know; 'we're just so sick of governments blaming previous governments'. Why not just say; 'look this is what we've got, and we'll fix it'. The blame game is continuing from both sides on this and you're saying that your Government takes no responsibility for the state of the books at the moment?

CIOBO:

Look Nicole, I think people are reasonable, I think that people understand that when a new government has been elected and we've been in for 101 days – I think they get that for the last six years Labor has been in power and the result that will be announced today in the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook is a result that has been brought about by the previous government. And that's not a blame game. That's just a statement of fact. What we're focused on in government is what we're going to do to turn the ship around. What we're going to do to change the Budget bottom line, how we're going to improve it, how we're going to get Australia back on track towards a surplus, and to start to pay down the over $400 billion of debt that Labor left behind.

DYER:

And can the Federal Government afford a paid parental leave scheme?

CIOBO:

Well absolutely, and we had that costed and accounted for through the Parliamentary Budget Office, as we did with all of our policies. They were all given the tick of health, so to speak, by the Parliamentary Budget Office. And look, we're not about making big flashy promises; we're about living within our means. A clear example of that Nicole has been the debate in the Parliament over the past several weeks, we're trying to abolish the world's biggest Carbon Tax, and we're trying to abolish the Mining Tax. And the reason in particular I focus on the Mining Tax, is that the Mining Tax has with it billions and billions of dollars of expenditure and Labor is actually blocking that from going through. That would actually save the budget billions of dollars and Labor is blocking it.

DYER:

Mr Ciobo, four months ago Joe Hockey, as Shadow Treasurer, released an interim list detailing $31.6 billion in savings, but didn't release his costings until just a few days before the election. Why wasn't a full budget report released then in response to Labor's report which proposed to have the budget back in surplus in four years?

CIOBO:

I really don't really understand the question you're asking. We had all of our policies costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office, so I'm not really sure, are you talking about the Pre-Election Fiscal Outlook?

DYER:

Are you surprised? Are you surprised at the state of affairs for the Budget, the Federal Government's Budget? Did you see it coming?

CIOBO:

Well we were saying for quite some time that we didn't believe the Government was being truthful with the numbers that they had contained within the budget. I mean a classic example Nicole, based on what's called PEFO (the Pre-Election Fiscal Outlook) was the Labor party said 'well we expect unemployment to sit at around six-and-a-quarter per cent for two years' and then magically overnight it suddenly dropped down to five per cent as part of their forecast. Now at the time, we said those kind of assumptions are rubbish, those kinds of assumptions are just being included in the documents to try to make the bottom line look better. That's why we said there was never going to be a budget surplus in 2016/17. And bear in mind Nicole, this came from a Labor government that actually said there was going to be a budget surplus back in 2012/13.

DYER:

So Labor fudged the figures?

CIOBO:

Absolutely Labor fudged the figures. And that's why when you ask the question; 'were we surprised?' Well, I mean the answer to that is basically yes and no. We weren't surprised that the figures were worse than we thought they were because we'd been saying for some time that was going to be the consequence. But on the same token, we were surprised to see just how bad it actually was.

DYER:

Thank-you very much. Steve Ciobo, Member for Moncrieff.