ABC AM INTERVIEW WITH MELISSA CLARKE
WEDNESDAY, 15 JANUARY 2014
SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s Commission of Cuts.
PRESENTER: Well the Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten has returned fire, accusing the Treasurer of hiding plans for big budget cuts. He’s defended the Senate Committee’s decision to call Commissioners auditing the Government’s spending to hearings while they’re still compiling their reports. Bill Shorten is speaking to Melissa Clarke.
SHORTEN: I think Australians do have the right to know what cuts the Abbott Government is proposing to health services, to education, to families. That’s what these Senate hearings are all about. What is the truth?
CLARKE: But the Government doesn’t have those plans yet, they’re waiting on recommendations from the Commission of Audit, and the Commission of Audit hasn’t made those recommendations yet, so how much are you going to get out of these hearings if that’s what your questioning for?
SHORTEN: Well first of all, Joe Hockey said earlier this morning that they’re going to adopt a vast number of those recommendations, so clearly he has an idea, he wouldn’t just say he’s going to adopt a vast number of recommendations sight-unseen, so he knows something. When you’re the government of Australia you have an obligation to share the bad news, not just doll it out when it suits you. Also, the first report’s due very soon, so I think it strains belief that the Commission of Cuts and the Government haven’t already worked out some of their initial proposals, what they’re going to cut. We’ve seen the GP tax, the tax on people taking their kids to the doctor, being raised. They are simply trying to hide the fact before the Griffith by-election, they are trying to probably get it out at Budget time and smother it in other news.
CLARKE: We know it can be difficult for Parliamentary inquiries to question about advice given to government. How confident are you that you will actually be able to illicit information out of these hearings given it still is an early stage for the Commission of Audit?
SHORTEN: The Commissioners, if they don’t provide answers to questions. have clearly been gagged by the Government. The Commission of Cuts and the selective leaks from the Government show that they’ve got a fair idea about a few of the things they want to do and none of them are good. They’ve made it clear, they haven’t just floated it by accident, they’re not just that haphazard, that they’ve floated an idea of charging people for going to the doctor. So obviously that’s a plan they’ve seriously considered. They flagged the possibility of means testing childcare payments, they’ve indicated their going to cut childcare workers’ wages. The Abbott Government has a clear, albeit secret agenda to cut health and education and family services. They should just come clean and tell people what they’re going to do.
PRESENTER: The Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten.
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