MARK PARTON: Let’s go to Simon Birmingham, Senator for South Australia, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Murray-Darling Basin and Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Good morning, Mark, and good morning to your listeners.
MARK PARTON: Was there an honesty from Wayne Swan last night? I mean, aside from all the wank about how they’re in a position of strength and, you know, the beautiful things that they’ve done, did you sense an economic honesty?
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, no, Mark, sadly, quite the opposite. Wayne Swan started his budget speech and reiterated on numerous times that this was a budget, he claimed, about jobs and growth. Well, the truth in this budget is that unemployment is forecast to rise, to 5.75 per cent, and growth is forecast to fall, to 2.75 per cent, so, to have your rhetoric about it being a budget of jobs and growth, when unemployment’s up and growth is down, really is quite misleading but, beyond that, when you get to the fiscal parameters of the budget, we have real concerns that a number of the projections remain, it seems, overly optimistic. The revenue from the carbon tax, the revenue from the mining tax, in the ‘out years’ of this budget when Labor claims it will get back to surplus, look like they could once again fail to be met which, of course, is why we find ourselves in this situation of Labor recording its fifth record budget deficit in five consecutive years.
MARK PARTON: And, of course, you know, the most absurd perceptual to come out of that for pretty much every Australian is the fact that less than six months ago this Government was still talking about a budget surplus which was always ludicrous and, you know, I cannot believe that they went for so long trying to sell that.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Well, it’s more than 600 occasions that Wayne Swan or Julia Gillard individually claimed that the budget would be back in surplus this year and this year’s budget was meant to be the one to deliver that and this absolutely strikes at the credibility problem the Government has is: they couldn’t deliver what they promised last year for this year; how on earth are they going to be able to deliver the types of things they’re talking about on not just a four-year forward estimates horizon now but a ten-year program that they’re promising?
MARK PARTON: Ten years, yeah. I saw your Leader being interviewed on Sunrise earlier this morning and he was extremely cautious in his responses, the big picture responses, regarding surplus. As he pointed out, Wayne Swan’s had 12 months to put this together; at this stage, you guys have had 12 hours. It is going to be a fascinating response. I’m sure you’re looking forward to it as much as we are.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: Look, absolutely and we don’t kid ourselves in the Liberal and National Parties that… it is a very difficult job ahead of us, in terms of making sure we present a credible plan to the electorate, but, if we win, we know it will be very, very challenging to get the books back under control, to get the economy back with some confidence in it so that we actually can deliver real jobs and real growth where the indicators go up and not down.
MARK PARTON: Excellent. Thanks for coming on this morning.
SIMON BIRMINGHAM: A pleasure, mate.
MARK PARTON: Senator Simon Birmingham.