ABC 1233 BREAKFAST WITH GARTH RUSSELL
WEDNESDAY, 9 MAY, 2018
SUBJECTS: Federal Budget 2018
GARTH RUSSELL, PRESENTER: Pat Conroy, Good morning to you.
PAT CONROY: Good morning, how are you?
GARTH RUSSELL: Good. Is there anything in this budget that you think is good for our local region?
PAT CONROY: I support the $100 million for mental health services funding. Particularly, the money going to Lifeline. I think that's a positive announcement that will benefit a region like ours. I think that's good. Unfortunately it's one of the few things in the budget so far that I have been able to find that is good news.
GARTH RUSSELL: On the downside, obviously we don't have time to talk about everything, but what's the worst part in your mind of this budget?
PAT CONROY: Well, I think the priorities are wrong. This budget confirms the $80 billion of tax cuts for large corporations and on top of that it announces tax cuts worth $7,000 a year for people earning over $200,000 a year, yet the average worker in my electorate of Shortland will only get $8 a week. So $8 a week for my workers versus $7,000 for someone on $200,000 and $80 billion corporate tax cuts; so for me that's symbolic of the whole missed opportunity in this budget.
GARTH RUSSELL: The coalition Government is obviously... there's a lot of pressure on them to make this budget work because of course, we're getting ever so much closer to another Federal election. What sort of pressure is on the opposition to cut through, because I guess when we listen to people out in the streets it's not easy to engage everyone in this conversation, is it; so what kind of pressure is on you as the opposition to get people connected to what you think you can do better?
PAT CONROY: Well I think people want a vision for the country that is positive, and I think we can provide that. Secondly, they want reassurance that politicians and the Labor opposition value the services that people rely on; so that's why we are opposed and we are already committed to restoring the $17 billion cuts to schools. That's why you can expect announcements around hospitals and health care; and around protecting pensioners. That's because people value support for health care, for schools, looking after pensioners, looking after education and training and I think that's what you will hear from Bill Shorten tomorrow night.
GARTH RUSSELL: What's your take on the bit... on the lot of cynicism in the electorate when we look at the short term election cycles, the need whether it be Labor or whether it be the Coalition, you know... the desire to stay in Government, to stay in power so that you can keep doing the good work but this need to fix things up in the short term to try and get people voting for you?
PAT CONROY: Well I think it's right. I think part of it is the political cycle. I think three terms is too short. The average Government lasts 2 1/2 years in Parliament so I think that is part of the fact that I don't blame the people for thinking this Government is very short sighted. Mind you, I don't actually think it's a particularly good election budget. If you are going to splash goodies around, I don't understand how they could claim that in this budget because this has some real nasties in it, such as cutting TAFE by $270 million, cutting the ABC by $84 million for example, so if this is a budget full of goodies, I'd hate to see what their post election budget would be.
GARTH RUSSELL: How do you feel about Bill Shorten's job on Thursday night? Do you envy what he has to do now? Do you think he has a bit of ammunition?
PAT CONROY: I think he has ammunition. Firstly in standing up against what are the bad choices in this budget, and secondly we've been pretty brave in making decisions to cut down on tax loopholes, whether it was negative gearing or the capital gains tax concession or family trusts rorting the tax system or franking credits and that means that we've been able to raise significant revenue that we can redirect into things people really want looked after whether it's health or education or pensioners or looking after families, so I'm hopeful Bill will really be positive and his track record over the last 4 years is announcing something positive in his budget reply. Not just saying no but saying this is what we would do if we were the Government of the day and I think that's really important for people to understand. We've made brave decisions and that will give us space to really put forward an alternative vision for the country.
GARTH RUSSELL: We appreciate your time this morning Pat Conroy. Thank you, for talking to me.
PAT CONROY: Not a problem. Good morning.