Budget – Interview with Dennis Grant, SBS Television

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Budget – Interview with Dennis Grant, SBS Television


Interview with Dennis Grant

SBS Television

Tuesday, 14 May 2002
8.45 pm


SUBJECTS: Budget deficit; defence; border protection;

disability pensions


Treasurer, thanks for joining us. It turns out tonight we find out we’re in

deficit. Now the Prime Minister was saying just a month ago that the economy

was going gangbusters. You used to talk about the links between interest rate

rises and deficit budgets. What went wrong? Where did the money go?


Well during the course of the last year, during a global slowdown when most

of the developed world’s economies went into recession, it was a very difficult

environment. I said that over and over and over again and as a consequence of

September the 11th, and the war against terrorism in Afghanistan,

we decided to make additional expenditure to support to …(inaudible)…build

up security at home. And if a global downturn and a heavy commitment of troops

is required, then the outcome assumed to be is going to take an affect on your

bottom line. But the good news is, Australia defeated the global downturn and

our economy is growing faster than the developed nations of the world and a

long with that we’ll be in a very strong financial position.


Well the tone of this whole budget is very serious, very sobering. Stockpiling

vaccines against possible terrorist stuff within Australia, vast expenditure

on defence. You’re not overstating this?


Well I hope it’s never needed. As I said in my budget speech, let’s hope we

never need any of these things. But who would have thought the World Trade Centre

would be brought down by terrorism. Countries have got to make their own assessment

in the light of that as to what they should do to protect their public. We’re

protecting airports, aircraft. We’re building up intelligence. We’re increasing

the number of strike teams with the Federal Police. We’ve got …inaudible…in

the Australian Defence Force capacity to lift…inaudible… Hopefully none

of them are never needed, but let’s suppose they are and we didn’t have the

capacity. What would the public think of its Government then?


A lot of worried pensioners I suspect tonight. These changes to the disability

pension. In a nutshell, what’s the point of that? Why are you doing this?


What we’re saying is, if you can work 15 hours a week, we’d like to encourage

you get back to work. Let’s take somebody who’s got a bad back. They’ve been

in a labouring job. They go on the disability support pension. They can be on

it for 20 or 30 years until they come off it for the aged pension. We’re saying

with medical treatment, with rehabilitation, you can get many of these people

back to work. Not maybe in a full-time 40 hour a week labouring job, but maybe

at a desk job, part-time. We’re providing more services to encourage them to

do that. And we want to try and get them back into the workforce, out of the

disability support pension into the workforce. It’s actually going to cost us

more money in the short term, but we think it will pay off in the long term

as lesser people and I’d like to see the case go on to the disability support



One quick last one. How may more budgets have you got in you?


We’ll get through this one before we figure out the next Dennis.


Thank you Treasurer.