TREASURER: Today there are a couple of things, three things in fact that I’d like Australians to know about how we’ve been bringing this Budget together. Our Prime Minister and I have been working to bring this Budget together with our team.
First of all is this – we’ve been listening. We understand that while Australia has grown ahead of large advanced economies in all the world and that our national growth against strong headwinds has been impressive, we understand that not all Australians have felt the experience of that growth personally. We understand that many other Australians feel frustrated that they’re not getting as ahead in the way they would like to. We understand that, and we understand that when wage growth has not been strong, that you feel the pinch of costs of living more. That the services that you rely on you feel more and it’s important that a government understands those pressures on Australians and families.
But in addition to that, Australians have been making big sacrifices to ensure that we’ve achieved the growth that we’ve had, and I want to tell them that it’s been worth it. To get of bed today, many of them would have been long up before now, and it’s worth it. It’s worth it. Because the second point I wanted to make is, as we look around the world and we look here at home, I’m responsibly optimistic that there are better days ahead. We can see them but we have to secure them. Those opportunities are there. Australia has worked hard to be well positioned and those better days are ahead and we need to secure them.
And the third point is this – tonight what you’ll see what the Prime Minister and I and the Government have sought to do is to be incredibly practical. There are issues that we need to address, that Australians face every day and the nation faces every day and we need to practically address ourselves to those tasks and those issues. It’s not about politics, it’s not about any of those things for Australians. It’s about just honestly and practically trying to deal with the challenges and the opportunities that are ahead. And so what you’ll see tonight is that we’ve sought to be practical about that and we’ll be inviting the Parliament to join the Government in the middle in our bid to ensure that we can address these challenges together.
Budgets are all about choices. This Budget is about making the right choices to secure the better days that are ahead. It’s based on the principles of fairness, of security and of opportunity. The choices to ensure that we grow our economy for more and better paid jobs. The choice to ensure that we guarantee the services that Australians rely on.
The choice to ensure that we put downward pressure on rising costs of living, and as always the choice to ensure that the Government lives within its means. These are the right choices to secure the better days ahead.
QUESTION: Living within its means Treasurer, a story in the Daily Telegraph about changes in the welfare system, Newstart being replaced? Can you just confirm that one please?
TREASURER: Budget will be on tonight, the lockup starts early this afternoon and all of those questions will be addressed then.
QUESTION: Are you confident Australia will keep its AAA credit rating after this Budget’s handed down?
TREASURER: Well they’re matters for the agencies to determine. The Government has put together a practical budget, which deals with both the fiscal challenges, obviously that’s the job of the Budget, but we equally need to deal with the nation’s challenges.
QUESTION: Do you think it’s time to put a debt ceiling back in place, like Eric Abetz has suggested, or has he got it wrong?
TREASURER: What we have to do is continue to get debt under control. Since coming to Government we’ve reduced the growth in debt by two thirds, the job of the Budget is to bring it back into balance in a fair and responsible way and that’s what we’ll be doing.
QUESTION: What role will health play in tonight’s Budget?
TREASURER: Healthcare is fundamental to all Australians. If you haven’t got your health, or you struggle with your health, just like with housing as I’ve said, everything else gets harder, all of life’s other challenges get harder and so obviously that’s a key service that Australians rely on.
QUESTION: And housing, how big a role will that play?
TREASURER: Well I think the response is the same. If you’re out there today and you’re on a housing waiting list or last night spent the night in the cold, outdoors, if you’re spending more than 50 per cent of your income on your rent and you’re living in Hobart, that’s tough. If you’re a young family who’s had to put off buying a house because they can’t keep up, they can’t save fast enough, well housing’s an important issue to you. And because it’s an important issue to them, it’s an important issue to me. And so you can expect me to seek to address those issues tonight. There’s no silver bullet, never has been. I think people are tired of superficial responses that don’t treat problems seriously. These are complex challenges and they need comprehensive solutions, but those solutions will only go so far, but governments have to apply themselves to them.
QUESTION: What would be the benefit of a demerit point style system to crack down on people dodging their welfare…
TREASURER: Well again the lockup’s this afternoon and issues relating to particular measures will be addressed in the Budget which I’ll announce tonight. Thanks very much.