THE Spectator asked Wannon MP Dan Tehan seven questions about the Commonwealth budget covering areas of success for the Coalition and decisions that have generated protest from some groups.
Mr Tehan declined to be interviewed and asked for the questions to be emailed.
Mr Tehan was made aware of the publication deadline but did not respond in time for his comments to be included in Thursday’s budget story.
For the benefit of our readers here are those questions and Mr Tehan’s answers.
The Spectator: Where will the safety net be for people under 25 who lose their jobs?
Dan Tehan: We are encouraging our under 25s to be either earning or learning.
From 1 January 2015 young job seekers aged 22 to 24 years who become unemployed will receive Youth Allowance (other) until they turn 25 years.
They will not be eligible for Newstart Allowance. There is a higher income-free threshold for Youth Allowance, so this change will strengthen the incentive for young unemployed people to work or pursue education and training opportunities.
Spec: Assuming trends projected in the budget continue, can the Australian people look forward to a surplus soon after the forward estimates period?
Tehan: The Budget Papers include a scenario where taxes are not allowed to increase beyond 23.9 per cent of GDP. This scenario shows the budget returning to balance in 2018-19 and a surplus of one per cent of GDP by 2021-22.
In 2023-24 gross debt is expected to be $389 billion, nearly $300b lower than the (Mid-year Economic and Fiscal Outlook) projection of $667b.
The medium term projections show strong surpluses of above 1 per cent of GDP within a decade.
Over the next ten years we will reduce our expected peak debt from $667b to $389b even building in future tax relief. This significant reduction in debt reduces our interest bill by $16b a year in ten years’ time.
Spec: Your desire to see the farmers’ diesel rebate saved has been fulfilled but multi-billion dollar mining companies will also keep the rebate. Is this a consistent approach to budget austerity?
Tehan: I fought hard to ensure that the diesel fuel rebate was retained in the budget because it is vital for our agricultural industry in Wannon.
Mining is also a very important industry for Australia because it creates many jobs locally and across Australia – Illuka is a good example.
I think it would be highly inconsistent to keep the diesel rebate for one industry and not another.
The Coalition is supportive of industries such as agriculture and mining because they generate jobs in rural and regional areas.
Spec: How many litres is the 40c per week extra claim based on? Do you accept that the fuel excise increase is likely to double in the 2015/2016 financial year compared to right now?
Tehan: The Government will reintroduce the twice yearly indexation of fuel excise to provide a stable and growing source of revenue that will be used to deliver vital road infrastructure.
In the long run, this will assist small businesses by providing more opportunities with better roads for transportation.
The estimated price impact of fuel indexation by the end of the 2014-15 is an increase of about 0.9 cents per litre.
Fifty litres of fuel would cost around $0.45 extra or around $24 extra per annum if this usage was weekly.
This is far below the $550 an average family will save in 2014-15 if Labor and the Greens would stop blocking the repeal of the carbon tax.
Spec: The Warrnambool cancer centre has received a $10 million contribution for its construction. What will this mean for the people of south west Victoria?
Tehan: The Coalition Government’s $10million towards the cancer centre is a tremendous boost for Wannon.
The cancer centre is now fully funded and has entered planning stages.
The delivery of this centre means that people who are fighting cancer will no longer have to travel to Ballarat or Geelong for treatment – they will now be able to undergo treatment locally where they are close to important family and friend support networks.
Spec: Hamilton’s National Centre for Farmer Health appears to have received no funding in the budget, but $1 million will be spent on a boarding school for ballerinas. Will Hamilton residents accept this funding priority?
Tehan: I’m still fighting for the National Centre for Farmer Health and talking to Ministers regarding its future.
In this budget election commitments from around the country in many diverse areas have been honoured and all election commitments in Wannon have also been honoured, including the $145,000 for the Melville Oval lights.
Spec: Has the budget provided a pathway to pay back Australia’s debt?
Tehan: We are absolutely on the right track to paying back Labor’s debt.
Currently we are paying a billion dollars a month in interest payments alone on Labor’s debt.
That is the equivalent of funding 100 cancer centres for Wannon per month!
The Coalition Government has reduced Labor’s deficits by $43.8b through to 2017-18.
Gross government debt is also forecast to be $389b in 2023-24, compared with the $667b that Labor left.