Article Categories: Portfolio Media Releases
30 July 2012
Topics: NDIS, economic management, AWU scandal.
Joining me is opposition finance spokesman, Andrew Robb. Andrew, we are actually talking about two things here. One is this trial scheme that will cover just 20,000 people and cost $1 billion. Second is the full scheme, which will cost $8 billion a year. Should this trial start when no one has agreed on how the pay for the full scheme?
These are one of many questions I think that are pertinent to this issue. The fact of the matter is that from the outset, every Australian government and opposition, state and federal, endorsed what the Productivity Commission proposed. It takes special skill for a Prime Minister to turn this into a political bun fight given that level of endorsement. And yet she seemed to vary from Productivity Commission.
The question that needs to be asked are, is this government still prepared to fund the gap between the $5 billion spent by the states and what the Productivity Commission said would be the ultimate cost.
But is said, $8billion a year extra - where is the money coming from? We are going to be setting up a trial at a huge cost. And no one knows if we can afford the fandango.ROBB:
Exactly right. Where is the money going to come from? Will it still start at 2018/19 as proposed by the Productivity Commission? Will the Commonwealth fill the gap? These are legitimate questions for any state government given the mess many of those have inherited from Labor. Will there to be 3,000 public servants as is already being mooted out of Canberra to administer this whole exercise?
So a trial that hires 3,000 public servants when there is no surety we can move to the full scheme?
To me, we have the prime minister rushing to grab the glory for this thing before the first sod is turned, and before we know what is in the mind of the prime minister and the government, they have changed the amount of money to be spent on the trials massively; instead of $4 billion, $1 billion. Where is the money coming from for any of that to start with?
Do you think any government can find a full $8 billion a year extra by 2018?
Well, any government could, but it probably will require stopping or removing other programs
But do you think you could?
If we stopped other programs we could.
But are you committing to finding that $8 billion a year by 2018?
We have said that we support the Productivity Commission proposal.
But 2018? You will have that money by 2018?
Well, the Government said this as well.
I am just trying to check, is that a yes? That you will, would have that money by 2018?
We will introduce that program according to the Productivity Commission proposal.
Which means we will allocate resources to this project to enable it to start in full by 2018.
Because Joe Hockey said he could not commit to it, the Shadow Treasurer said he could not commit to it.
We have said that we do support the Productivity Commission proposal. For the states to support and cooperate with the federal government, questions such as, will the Commonwealth fund it, as the Productivity Commission said it would, how will it be administered?
I’m just wondering because Joe Hockey said he could not fund, he couldn’t promise to it. It is a lot of money. You say you can by 2018?
What I'm saying is any government, our government, the federal government, can ensure that 2018-19 is a start date. It is a question of priorities. It probably, as I said, would require the removal, or the scaling-back, of other programs to make this a priority. Bear in mind if government has got a legitimate role in spending taxpayer money, it must first and foremost look after people who have got no capacity to look after themselves.BOLT:
In fact though, isn't it the case that the budget forecast of future surpluses thanks to the mining boom are already like shot and that the budget forecast a lot of growth in China, for example, of 8%, we now know it is 7.5%, and it projected only a gradual decline from the record commodity prices, we now see Deloitte Access Economics saying the mining boom could be over in two years. Are we in fact looking at a big budget black hole that makes all sorts of talk about big spending programs useless?
We have all along thought that this government has taken the most optimistic forecasts. Again, the budget was predicated on everything going well around the world; the mining boom, and our terms trade, our record terms of trade, holding up.
The fact is that even the budget papers indicated that for every 4 per cent change in the terms of trade, you are talking about $7 billion increase in the budget deficit. The terms of trade are currently about 50 per cent higher than the average over the '80s and '90s so you are seeing prices coming down far more than we thought.
The other thing is that BHP, the Olympic Dam proposal, is in doubt. Shell announced yesterday $17 billion worth of projects in doubt. Half the pipeline that Swan brags about is in fact, has not reached FID or final investment decision and probably will not.
It’s a big worry. We have to go. Quickly, before we go, I mentioned in my editorial the Bruce Wilson case involving the former boyfriend and client of Julia Gillard, what is the biggest question you would like to ask her about the scandal?
There are a lot of questions that have not been answered. It has all been brushed away. Just first and foremost, did the prime minister when she was acting as lawyer for the AWU, was she responsible for developing, for putting in place the AWU reform association?
These are the sorts of questions that are at the heart of the problem.
I think we need to ask her that. Andrew Robb, thank you for joining me.
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