COMPERE: Good morning gentlemen.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning.
MARK BUTLER: Good morning.
COMPERE: Christopher Pyne, can you explain – what is a person meant to do if they are unemployed, haven’t got a serious work record, they are under thirty, and they are told you have lost your unemployment benefits for the next six months?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, they’ll continue to get Family Tax Benefit if they are in a family, they will continue to get rent assistance from the taxpayer, they will continue to get many of the transfer payments that go with that situation except the unemployment benefits.
COMPERE: They’re getting so much, they probably don’t need the dole…
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, I didn’t say that. They will also get the opportunity because of the massive expansion of apprenticeships and university places, they will get the opportunity to go back to study and do learning, rather than earning, while they prepare themselves for the workforce because we are going to extend the higher education contribution scheme to apprentices which I think is only fair and we are going to massively expand the university sector by expanding the demand driven system to sub-bachelor courses.
COMPERE: Will they get paid by…
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Typically done by first generation and low SES students.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Sorry, sorry Matt.
COMPERE: No, no, I apologise, I cut you off.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: That’s alright.
COMPERE: I don’t often apologise for that. I just, a weak moment – I don’t know what came over me. But Chris Pyne, would, so if you are at university, or in some form of training, you will then get the dole, or you will get the equivalent?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, if you are at university, you would get probably Youth Allowance if you are especially if you are low SES, low socio-economic status person. So if you go to university to attract the Youth Allowance, if you pay fees, you can pay them all back through the tax system when you start earning over $50,000 a year so in fact equity and compassion has been very much at the forefront of my thinking in this budget about the education portfolio and I think we have come up with a balance that means that whilst students will contribute more, they will contribute about 50/50 for their education costs, they will be able to pay it all back when they start earning, so nobody will have to bear any burden while they are at university.
COMPERE: Mark Butler, Labor MP for Port Adelaide, the Government is arguing that if there are, if there is pain and they can see there is, because you have left the place in a mess?
MARK BUTLER: Well I think we have talked about this before, I mean Joe has, Joe Hockey has tried to confect this idea of a budget emergency. When he came to Government within weeks he doubled the budget deficit and now he is saying that through some of these extraordinarily savage cuts, he is going to halve the deficit that he doubled. I mean even John Hewson called him out on this last night. So there is no budget emergency, we are one of only ten countries with three triple A credit ratings and our public finances are the envy of the world. But I mean this is a staggeringly brutal budget. I can’t believe that Christopher Pyne said what he just said with a straight face. I mean, there is a litany of broken promises in this budget and we are still going through it which causes really significant pain for low and middle income Australians across society. Pensioners and carer who will see the value of their pension reduced year after year. The families who receive savage cuts to family payments…
COMPERE: But those changes to the pension will come after the next federal election…
MARK BUTLER: No, they are in the budget papers, they might come after the next federal election and Tony Abbott might say it’s not a broken promise…
COMPERE: But you might win the next election, and you would overturn that, wouldn’t you? Mark Butler, let’s be quite clear about that. These changes to the pension come in after the next election. If you win it, you won’t allow it happen, will you?
MARK BUTLER: Well we have made it clear, we will oppose the changes to the pension tooth and nail. We will oppose…
COMPERE: If you win government before they kick in, you will reverse them?
MARK BUTLER: That’s not the point.
COMPERE: No, well it is the point.
MARK BUTLER: Joe Hockey has been…
COMPERE: Mark Butler, will you reverse them if you win the next election?
MARK BUTLER: We made it very clear, we are opposed to these changes, tooth and nail.
COMPERE: But you will reverse them?
MARK BUTLER: What Joe Hockey is doing...
COMPERE: Why won’t you say you will reverse them?
MARK BUTLER: Well we are responding to a budget we received thirteen hours ago, David, so we said very clearly that these are one of the very, very immediate changes we will oppose…
COMPERE: You are every clear that you are opposed to them, why won’t you say you will reverse them?
MARK BUTLER: I said very clearly, we are opposed to these tooth and nail for a range of reasons, they constitute the most solemn broken promise by Tony Abbott, they are bad policy, they hit vulnerable Australians who have worked hard all their life, paid their taxes, raised their families. We are dead set opposed to this. But Joe Hockey can’t have it both ways, he can’t say that the pension changes come in after the next election so they are not a broken promise, but he is trying to take a benefit of the savings that he reaps from this, that is in the budget papers that were released last night.
COMPERE: Chris Pyne, is it a good look for Joe Hockey to be dancing before he gave this budget? So we have the sombre face when he is delivering the budget, the serious Joe Hockey, a few days before he is out expansively smoking cigars in the Parliament House courtyard with Mathias Cormann, the Finance Minister, and now he is dancing in his office. Surely he hadn’t see his son, his little boy, for three weeks, but is it not the best of looks?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well Matthew, I wasn’t aware that that was an issue but if he was…
COMPERE: Well, was been talking about it all morning.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Was he?
COMPERE: Laurie Oakes. Yep. Saying what a vicious attack it is on him…
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I have been in meetings since early this morning so I apologise for that, but I think he is probably just pleased to see Xavier, who is of course a gorgeous little fella and when you’re the Treasurer, you spend basically from December to May away from the family and I guess he is pleased to see his wife and one of his children.
COMPERE: Is it a good look? To be dancing in the streets when you are telling everybody that we’ve all got to suffer, it is painful?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well we are very proud of this budget because it is a ‘contribute and build’ budget. We are building for the future, whether it is in trades, through the extension of the HECS scheme, to apprentices, whether it is through university, medical research future fund, $50 billion of infrastructure, which means jobs and better productivity in the economy. We are making our safety nets sustainable into the future but more importantly we are addressing Labor’s debt and deficit disaster that they left us. Now last week I said on your programme that it would be fair for everyone and it would be right for the country and I think we have got that balance right and I think that the public will see this budget for what it is, an honest attempt to address the damage that was left to us by the Labor party and kind of audacious of Mark Butler to pretend that Labor left the books in a good state.
COMPERE: It’s founded, is it not, on untruths, and you only need to go through the mantra that Tony Abbott in front of a great big billboard with his signature on it, repeated time and time and time again.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well I can tell you in my portfolio the increase, the spending on schools increases, the spending on higher education increases. So there are no cuts to education in this budget.
COMPERE: And no cuts to health?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well I haven’t examined the health portfolio in the same detail that I have examined my own portfolio obviously. I am very proud to be able to say that school funding increases.
COMPERE: No cuts to the ABC or SBS?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well again I haven’t had the chance to look at Malcolm Turnbull’s portfolio, but overall…
COMPERE: So he’s kept all of your promises?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: We said we would fix the budget disaster left to us and we are doing that. And we said that we would lower taxes and we are. In this budget there is $5.7 billion less tax collected next year than would have been collected if Labor was re-elected and that it is in spite of the increase in excise in petrol and the two per cent increase in the income tax rate.
COMPERE: Let’s quickly go to Deborah, hello Deborah.
CALLER DEBORAH: Good morning and thank you for the opportunity. Look I just wanted to make the point to Christopher in regards to education and jobs and earn and learn. My daughter has recently graduated with the double degree, Arts/Law, with Honours, so she did well. And she has been applying for any jobs that can be you know possibly use a Law/Arts degree. And unfortunately there just aren’t any jobs out. I spoke to a lawyer friend of mine in the hope of getting there a volunteer placement and she said the same thing that they have a dearth of, not a dearth, you know, an absolutely abundance of graduates and there are just no jobs. And that’s for someone who has studied for four years. I am a psychologist, also I speak to many young people on a daily basis who are at their absolute wits’ end about being able to study and earn and learn and there are no jobs when they have done some study and I have just recently spoken to TAFE and they were saying that their fees were about to double simply because they were getting budget cuts and that was before the budget was released and young people aren’t going to be able to afford.
COMPERE: Deborah, thank you, thank you Deborah. Nancy from Vale Park. Hello Nancy. Nancy from Vale Park?
CALLER NANCY: Hi guys. Look, Christopher, I wonder how people from Munno Para, the people who were initially mentioned in all of this, how do they get to university so they can get some sort of subsidy, I think, I am disgusted, absolutely disgusted.
COMPERE: Christopher Pyne, what do you say to Nancy and Deborah?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well I say to Nancy that somebody from Munno Para has just as much opportunity to go to university as anyone else for the simple reason that they can borrow every single dollar of their tuition fees from the taxpayer and not pay it back until after they earn $50,000 a year so there is no financial reason why somebody from Munno Para as you put it Nancy can’t go to university and they will also probably attract the Youth Allowance which means they will be supported at university by the taxpayer. So I’d say to Deborah, that TAFE is run by the State Government so if there is cuts to TAFE it is from the State Government, not the Federal Government but I would also say to Deborah that is why we have to build the economy, that’s why we have to invest in infrastructure, in apprenticeships, in skills, in universities, because we need to grow the economy so that there are more jobs.
COMPERE: We are not far off our news service, Chris Pyne, thank you.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Pleasure.
COMPERE: The Education Minister and Leader of the House in the Abbott Government. And Mark Butler, Opposition Environment and Climate Change spokesman.