PETER VAN ONSELEN: On The Nation with David Speers, Joel Fitzgibbon, the Whip on your side of the Parliament, made the point that he felt that Labor needed to just be prepared to embrace the fact that the surplus was gone and that it needed to consider not having to have a surplus. Do you accept that?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, I don’t. The government’s been determined to return the Budget to surplus. We’ve shown in the past that we can make tough savings decisions. We’ve created space in the Budget, for example, to provide support and rebuild Queensland after the floods.
PETER VAN ONSELEN: So you’re confident that you will still deliver this surplus in May when the Budget’s handed down?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Yes, we’re working hard to make sure that that can happen. I know I’ve been a part of the process, and we’ve recently brought down the mid-year economic forecast, and in that we had a range of measures that went through the Parliament in the last week. …
PETER VAN ONSELEN: But there’s also a lot of speculation, you know, about whether the government will achieve its surplus or not. You’ve got members – senior members of your own side saying that it should be prepared to give up on the surplus. You’ve got the latest monthly release of revenue figures showing that, I believe, revenue windfalls are down $1.8 billion in the last month alone – which is more than the surplus.
At the end of the day, when is the point going to come where the government is going to do what we all expect it do – and admit that the surplus is too hard, albeit perhaps for reasons outside of the government’s control? It looks like we are being baby-stepped towards that.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: No, if you look at what we’ve actually done and you look at the mid-year economic forecast which was just weeks ago, you’ll see what the government’s actions have been, rather than speculation about what might happen in terms of global economic forecasts.
Indeed, just this week the OECD brought down a report that once again heralded the Australian economy, indeed spoke about the Australian economy as the Iron Man of the global economy – that shows how strong we are going as an economy. We’re a government’s that’s produced lower unemployment, lower interest rates, lower spending as a proportion of GDP. All of the key economic indicators are very positive.
PETER VAN ONSELEN: And some economists would say, because of the strength of the Australian economy, it can afford to dip into a small deficit, given the nature of what is happening globally. But let me put it to you this way – because we can’t seem to find a minister that’s prepared to do more than slightly soften the rhetoric on whether the surplus is going to be achieved – if you had to walk through a door and your life depended on it, is the government going to deliver a surplus or is it going to fall into a small deficit in May?
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well the government’s going to deliver a surplus. That’s our policy. That’s what we’ve been working towards. We’ve shown that we’ve been prepared to make appropriate cuts that don’t affect low and middle income earners, that provide that protection there. We’ve shown also we can make tough decisions without endangering that long-term economic growth – so you’ll notice we’ve continued to invest in infrastructure, because that’s about future growth, and it would be cutting off our nose to spite our face if we went down the road of just cuts for cuts sake.
That’s not what we’re about. What we’re about is strengthening the base of the Australian economy. We’ve done that through good macroeconomic management and also by being very deliberate about the cuts that we’ve made and the changes that we’ve made, all of which of course have been criticised by the Opposition. Look at the Opposition – when they’re overseas, Joe Hockey speaks about getting rid of the age of entitlement, but back at home we have never seen a saving that he was prepared to support.
Today – December 20, 2012 – Wayne Swan abandoned one of the seven economic wonders of the world.
Here is Wayne Swan scrathing his head – gee how did that happen?
The Federal Government has all but dumped its promise to deliver a budget surplus this financial year, arguing the move will help protect the economy and jobs in the face of falling tax revenue.
(HT: Tim and CL)