Doorstop - Canberra (4)

03 December 2013


SUBJECT/S:  The Abbott Government’s broken promise on schools funding; debt ceiling; the Greens; Temporary Protection Visas

JIM CHALMERS: What was a broken promise on schools last week remains a broken promise on schools this week. Yesterday’s humiliating back down by the Prime Minister and Minister Pyne does absolutely nothing to fix the broken promise that no school would be worse off. I think parents, certainly in my electorate, right through Queensland and right around the country, will see through the weasel words and the self-congratulation from the Government and understand that this promise will remain broken until they can go to every school and re-commit that no school anywhere in the Commonwealth will be worse off.

They seem to be the only people in Australia who would trust premiers like Campbell Newman to do the right thing in State budgets by our kids. And then to have to watch Chris Pyne on the 7:30 Report last night say that yesterday was a pretty good day at the office, I think says it all about their arrogance and their approach to school kids right around Australia.

JOURNALIST: Do you think that Campbell Newman got the assurances of Tony Abbott before the election on school funding?

JIM CHALMERS: I think what we’re seeing is that this Government is not the Government they said they’d be before the election. Whatever commitments they might have given to State leaders before or after the election, it remains the case they told parents before the election that every school would get the same amount of funding under them as they would get under Labor. That’s proven to be a lie. It’s proven to be a deception. And our kids will pay the price, unfortunately, for that lie and that deception.

JOURNALIST: Hasn’t the Coalition done something that Labor couldn’t achieve and sign up not just Queensland but basically get the whole nation?

JIM CHALMERS: Labor put on the table record funding for all of the states and the states that didn’t sign up by the time of the election, they didn’t sign up because they couldn’t guarantee they wouldn’t cut school funding. And that’s really the issue that’s at play here. What Abbott and Pyne are doing is saying to the states to take them on trust that they won’t cut school funding and we don’t think that’s good enough.

JOURNALIST: Do we need a debt ceiling?

JIM CHALMERS: Well I just think politics in Australia is getting stranger and stranger. You’ve got before the election Abbott and Hockey describing the Greens as ‘economic fringe-dwellers’. Now they want to do a deal with the Greens to eliminate any limit on the national credit card, and we won’t support that.

JOURNALIST: You did a deal with the Greens on TPVs.

JIM CHALMERS: Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey were describing the Greens as economic fringe-dwellers before the election and now they want to do a deal. They want to eliminate any cap on the national debt limit. They said that there was a budget emergency before the election and then after the election they want to eliminate the debt cap on the national credit card. That just says it all about not being the Government that they said they would be.

JOURNALIST: Are there any merits to the idea though? Are there any merits to the idea of getting rid of that debt cap?

JIM CHALMERS: We don’t support eliminating any limit to the national credit card. The ball is in Joe Hockey’s court now. We’ve said that we would support a modest increase in the debt limit if he can. We are already supporting a modest increase to the debt limit and that if he needs half a trillion dollars that he’s asking for then he should come clean and release the national books.

JOURNALIST: But what is the danger of removing that debt cap?

JIM CHALMERS: We think there should be a limit on the national debt – the national credit card. We’ve said that all along. We introduced the limit and we think that it’s an important break on Joe Hockey who said before the election there was a debt emergency and then after the election tried to almost double the debt limit and now he wants to eliminate it entirely.

JOURNALIST: Doesn’t the Abbott Government have a mandate to introduce Temporary Protection Visas?

JIM CHALMERS: Well, the problem that I have with Temporary Protection Visas is I don’t think they act as a disincentive under our Papua New Guinea solution, which was already shown to have started to work. We will have a discussion about these matters later on in the Party Room and I’ll limit my contribution to there. Thank you very much.