Transcript of Interview: 5AA Breakfast with David Penberthy

Interview

BPC035/2014

08 May 2014

David Penberthy: Now, there's been a lot of heated public debate about broken promises over the Abbott Government's plans for a deficit tax, despite promising no new taxes during the election campaign. However, one other big promise Tony Abbott did make was to stop the boats and, whether you like it or not, that policy has worked. It also means that the Inverbrackie Detention Centre up there in the Adelaide Hills is one of 10 detention centres across the country that is going to be closed, saving the taxpayer some $280 million a year. Joining us now is the Infrastructure Minister and the Member for Mayo, the seat up there in the Adelaide Hills, Jamie Briggs.

Good morning, Minister. Just in terms of the closure of Inverbrackie, can you confirm that it is going to be closed down, and do you also know how many people are there now and what is going to be done with them?

Jamie Briggs: Good morning, David. Well, yes, it will be closed. It will be closed by the end of the year, and that fulfils an election commitment that we made leading into the last election that we would put in place policies that stops the boats arriving and, therefore, we'd be able to close detention facilities such as Inverbrackie, which has cost nearly $100 million since it was established. It will be, obviously, wound down gradually over the next few months and the people who are being processed now, that'll continue to happen until it's closed in December.

David Penberthy: What's your take on the community sentiment about Inverbrackie at the moment, Minister? Will people—because there's a lot of hostility about the lack of consultation in the first instance, but what's the vibe up in the hills been about it over the past year or so?

Jamie Briggs: Well, look, I think people have always been uncomfortable about the fact it was established without any consultation. People are uncomfortable with the fact that the policies that have worked under John Howard were changed in 2008 by Kevin Rudd and that had led to thousands of people arriving by boat, and this was a symbol of that. And what we've been able to do is to stop that flow of boats and, as you say, the policies that we've put in place are working and we'll continue to work on those policies, and that means that we'll be able to save millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars across the country in cost in relation to the detention network.

And so people, I think, will be very pleased with that. That was a commitment we took. And if you want to judge, I guess, the view on election day when, as you remember, I was clearly putting that proposition that we could close it if we were elected, in the two most relevant booths to that, Inverbrackie Detention Facility, Woodside, and [indistinct], I received over 60 per cent of the primary vote, a 10 per cent lift from the previous election. So I think people spoke pretty clearly at the election and what the plan they wanted to be implemented.

David Penberthy: Yeah. Look, it was clearly one of the biggest promises that the Abbott Government made last year and it's a promise that has not only been kept, but kept quickly. But on the question of broken promises, can you explain to our listeners, Minister, what is the difference between what Julia Gillard said about the carbon tax and what Tony Abbott said about no new taxes?

Jamie Briggs: Well, look, what I can say to your listeners, David, is that next Tuesday night there will be a Budget which has a plan to ensure that we live within our means, and that was the absolute commitment we made at the election, alongside of stopping the boats. We said we would fix the deficit situation that the Labor Party had left us, and it's not easy. The decision we are taking in relation to next Tuesday night, we do not make for fun, and many of them will hurt many of your listeners.

Many of your listeners will suffer some pain next Tuesday night, but what we want to ensure is that everyone in our society, everyone's contributing to ensure that we can stop the deficit budgets, because ultimately it'll be our kids who pay if we don't. If we don't do this now, it'll be our children who pay the price in the future.

David Penberthy: You worked for John Howard, though, who was someone who aimed to give people tax cuts. You must be really uncomfortable, Jamie Briggs, not only with the breach of the promise that this clearly is, but also the long held Liberal view that you should reward people for hard work.

Jamie Briggs: Well, we want to reward people for hard work, but we can only do that if the government is living within its means. If you are borrowing simply to pay for commitments you have made, you are making your children share the burden, an unfair burden in the future. It is intergenerational theft and I won't be part of that, and that's why we went to an election where we said we would ensure we lived within our means.

Now, the situation is worse than what we thought, absolutely, but on next Tuesday night, your listeners will see a coherent plan. Many of them will be unhappy, David, I assure you, and when I'm on next, I'm sure there'll be many issues you'll want to talk about in that respect, but we want everyone to contribute to this task because I think it is only fair, particularly for our future generations, that we do some heavy lifting now to ensure that people in the future are not carrying an unfair burden.

David Penberthy: Do you think the Budget next Tuesday will include the possible reintroduction or changes to fuel indexation, Minister Briggs?

Jamie Briggs: I think there'll be a range of measures and there'll be a range of measures with people will find uncomfortable. There'll be some very positive measures in relation to infrastructure, because infrastructure will be at the heart of our growth package, but to ensure that we've got a sustainable Budget, there will be a range of measure that people will find very uncomfortable, but I think when they see the overall plan, they will understand that what we're trying to do, not with any joy, not with any great pleasure, but because we have an obligation to ensure, for our future generations, that we have a Budget which is sustainable, they will accept that what we're trying to do is take us in that direction.

Jane Reilly: Minister, we need you to be quick on this one, but just with the Darling South Road-Torrens upgrade, it looks like it might suddenly be coming together.

Jamie Briggs: Well, we've said for some time that we would get both projects done, and we've been working with the South Australian Government, and we're very hopeful, and the Budget will be able to talk more about that, and the benefits that that will bring our city.

David Penberthy: Minister for Infrastructure, Jamie Briggs, thanks very much for talking to us this morning on 5AA.

Jamie Briggs: Thanks, Penbo, and go the Double Blues.

David Penberthy: Absolutely, mate.