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Transcript of the Hon. Peter Dutton MP Sky AM Agenda Interview by Kieran Gilbert

GILBERT:Peter Dutton, thanks very much for your time. The Government’s been very critical of Campbell Newman’s cuts to the health system. It says that it’s not just bureaucrats, it’s frontline services as well. Are you sure that frontline services won’t be damaged by the Queensland Government’s cuts?

DUTTON:Kieran, there are a couple of points to make. The first is, why is Wayne Swan and now Kevin Rudd are obsessed with Campbell Newman and what’s going on in Queensland? Their obsessed because this Labor Government has completely lost it’s way. It’s obvious, to all Australians now, that it is game on in terms of Kevin Rudd. This Government hasn’t got a good record on anything, including health, to tell the Australian people about, so what do they do? They do what they did in the Queensland election and the South Australian election and now federally and that is to try and trash the leader of the LNP or the Liberal Leader here in terms of Tony Abbott. I think it is very much a red herring the Federal Labour Party pursuing that as an issue.


GILBERT:Aren’t you concerned about the cuts, if they do effect frontline services?


DUTTON:Look I want to make sure we turn bureaucratic positions, well intentioned bureaucrats and no body likes to see people lose their jobs, I want to see those positions turned into doctors and nurses. I think in a short period of time the mums and dads who are waiting hours and hours in emergency departments now, older pensioners in waiting list queues, I think they will see the benefit, over the course of the next couple of years. They will see the benefit because this is a government that is translating a bureaucratic spend into a frontline spend and really that’s what has to happen.


GILBERT:There’s an intense backlash in relation to these cuts. Are you worried about the flow on effect that’s going to have federally, as we near an election year at the federal level?


DUTTON:Well I just ask, where were Tanya Plibersek and the unions, when Queensland Health was ripping the guts out of Queensland Health workers in the pay debacle? This is the world’s longest running pay debacle, it’s cost $1.25 billion to Queensland taxpayers. The unions didn’t say anything. The Nurses Union were nowhere to be seen, when people were having their pay withheld, money was being clawed back under the previous Labor government. So it’s a little convenient, I think politically, for Tanya Plibersek to be on the bandwagon now. But basically Canberra has followed the same model as Queensland has. Tanya Plibersek has presided over twelve new bureaucracies being set up in Canberra and we are depriving ourselves of assistance to doctors and nurses and frontline staff. They are the people that we want to help, to make sure we have better health outcomes. The Government may be well intentioned but spending all of your health spend on bureaucrats is not a good way of getting good health outcomes.


GILBERT:It seems like the concern is beyond the unions. If you look at recent polling it shows that Campbell Newman had a very short honeymoon period indeed. People don’t like the extent of the cuts they are seeing in terms of health and education and more generally.


DUTTON:Well Campbell Newman announced $800 million as in injection into health, in the budget on Tuesday and he is going to re-direct money to frontline services. I go around hospitals, all over the country, Kieran, on a regular basis. When I talk to doctors and nurses, what they say is two things, one they sick to death of being tied up in committee meetings all day, they want to see and help patients and they’re worried as a result of both those activities, that they’re spending their time and their money and the resources of the hospitals on the meetings and not the patients. It’s about time we turned that scenario around and that we put money into frontline services, not into more bureaucratic structures.


GILBERT: As an assistant treasurer, what about the general criticism about this budget?  Jac Nasser has said the decision to lift royalties by $1.6 billion is unbelievable, is disappointing. Xstrata expressed a similar sentiment. They’re worried about the impact on future projects. This could be really counter productive couldn’t it?  


DUTTON: The sovereign risk that people are talking about at the moment is in relation to the Federal Government, not just in relation to carbon tax and mining tax but the live cattle export,  the back flip that they’ve done in relation to this so called super trawler in Tasmania. This is a Government that has completely lost its way.


GILBERT:But the Nasser comments are specifically about the coal royalties?


DUTTON:The Nasser comments are and BHP comments in the past are about Taxation and you understand those concerns, but their bigger priority and their bigger concern is about where the federal, the national economy is headed. It’s true to say that even when you talk to Labor people privately, that they get the same feedback from business that we do. That there is incredible market uncertainty about the Gillard Government. People do think that they have lost their way and I think that’s what creates business uncertainty. That’s why I think we need a change of Government at a federal level. I think that if we do that, we can get some certainty back and some investment back into the mining space in particular but across the board and I think that will be for the benefit of the Australian economy.

GILBERT:Peter Dutton, thanks for your time this morning.

DUTTON:Thanks Kieran.


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