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BCA Calls for Open Mind on Surplus Target
‘BCA Calls for Open Mind on Surplus Target’, first broadcast on AM, 19 January 2011, is reproduced by permission of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and ABC Online. (c) 2011 ABC. All rights reserved.
Tony Eastley: Graham Bradley from the Business Council of Australia is also on the [business] task force.
He’s urging the government to be flexible and to think about where and when it spends money on infrastructure.
Graham Bradley: Well we welcome the commitment by the government to return the Budget to surplus in that time frame which I think now needs to be reconsidered.
We don’t yet know the full scale of the spending that will be needed from the federal government or the state governments for that matter in rebuilding south-east Queensland and the other flood-affected areas.
But what we do need to do is to maintain a disciplined approach to public spending. And that will probably require us to have a rethink about the sequencing of all infrastructure projects that require government funds.
Sabra Lane: What you’re saying there is a rethink about that surplus promise; even though it’s a good commitment, rethink it.
Graham Bradley: Well I think we need to keep an open mind at this stage. I’m on the task force, the business task force the Prime Minister has put together. We’ve yet to be briefed on the scale of the problem and I doubt there’s any realistically firm assessment yet of what needs to be done.
We know it’s going to be massive but we don’t know how much of it is going to be public infrastructure. We don’t know how much of it is private. We don’t know how much of it has been insured and how much isn’t.
Until we have a clearer picture of all those things I think we should just keep an open mind on this issue.
Sabra Lane: Have you had a look at the floods firsthand yourself?
Graham Bradley: I have. I had an opportunity on Monday to fly over not only south-east Queensland but the coal towns in central Queensland which have been so badly affected. And I must say from the air the scale of what’s happened is biblical.
Sabra Lane: In budgetary terms by both the state and federal governments should there be a ‘whatever it takes’?
Graham Bradley: Look, we have to do everything we can to try and restore the lives and the livelihoods of the communities that have been so devastatingly affected, and I think every Australian would support that approach.
Sabra Lane: I’m treading into politics here but the federal Opposition Leader says the government should ditch the national broadband network to help pay for the recovery. Is that idea worth exploring?
Graham Bradley: I think we should look at all public spending on infrastructure and have another think about the sequencing and the prioritisation of that once we know the full scale of what’s needed in Queensland.
The NBN is just one of many infrastructure projects that are going to have a demand on the public expenditure and federal funds over the next two to three and four years. And I really think everything should be reconsidered and re-sequenced if necessary.
The Business Council of Australia does not guarantee the accuracy of this transcript, which was supplied by an external transcription service.