Budget – Interview with Glen Milne, 7 Network

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Productivity Commission Report on Airport Price Regulation
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Productivity Commission Report on Airport Price Regulation
May 13, 2002
Budget – Address to the National Press Club
May 15, 2002

Budget – Interview with Glen Milne, 7 Network





Interview with
Glen Milne
7 Network

Tuesday, 14 May 2002
8.50 pm




Treasurer thanks for joining us. Big spending on defence and security but $1.9

billion in savings from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. How do you respond

to the claim that the sick are paying for national defence?


Well that’s not the case Glen because we’ve been building up defence now for

two years. In the past year, in the next year. The Pharmaceutical Benefits changes

are in the future. What they’re designed to do is they are designed to allow

expensive new drugs come on to the scheme at concessional rates. Some of these

drugs can cost $200.00 some can cost $1,000.00. And even if it costs $1,000.00

it will still be available to a pensioner for $4.60. But if you want to keep

bringing new medicines, new prescriptions on to that scheme you’ve got to have

the capacity to fund it otherwise it will break under it’s own weight.


All of the $330 million in savings on disability pensions, aren’t they the

most vulnerable people in our society?


Nobody who is incapable of work will be affected by this. This is a proposal

that says if you can work part time we’re going to try and encourage you to

get into part time work. At the moment you can go on a disability support pension

if you’re assessed as being unable to work a 30 hour week. You might have a

bad back or something. You stay on a disability pension until you go on the

age pension. What we want to say to those people is maybe you can’t work a 30

hour week with a bad back but maybe you can do a desk job for say 15 hours if

you can, let’s try and encourage you back into the workforce. We’ll have more

training, more rehabilitation rather than just sit you on the disability pension

for the rest of your life. And I think it will be good and it will be a good

reform and it will get a control on the increase in numbers that we’ve seen

over the last few years.


Okay, you’re forecasting a $2.1 billion surplus, you promised us a surplus

during the election campaign but you failed to deliver and in fact tonight we

find it’s $1.2 billion in deficit. Why should we believe that we’re going to

have a surplus in this out year?


Well, over the course of last year as we’ve made clear, we had heavy expenditures

on the commitment to Afghanistan, on the commitment in relation to security

matters and the global economy turned down. You had an American recession, a

Japanese recession, a German recession, the fact that Australia came through

it so well I think is testament to the strength of the Australian economy. Next

year we expect that the global economy will recover. We’ll lead the world again

and we’ll be in a very strong Budget position. I don’t think there is an advanced

economy in the world which is in nearly as strong financial position as Australia.

We’re at the head of the pack amongst the major industrial economies and we

want to stay there.


Treasurer let’s hope that turns out to be true. Thanks for being with us.


Thanks Glen.