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Australia: Tony Abbott Would Slash Public Service - Budget Reply
Source: theaustralian.com.au
Source Date: Thursday, May 13, 2010
Focus: Government Portal
Country: Australia
Created: May 17, 2010

TONY Abbott has pledged to slash the public service if elected prime minister in his budget in reply speech tonight. But the Opposition Leader did not identify the year in which he would return the budget to surplus – only saying he would do so as least as quickly as the current government.However, the Liberal leader has announced he’d introduce a two-year recruitment freeze to reduce public service numbers by 6000 each year.And Mr Abbott has renewed his attack on the government’s new mining tax, which he warned would wreck the economy.“The die is cast. Neither side will retreat. The only way to stop this great big new tax on the people who saved us from the recession is to change the government,” Mr Abbott said.

Describing the National Broadband Network as a $43 billion "white elephant", he confirmed the Coalition would not go ahead with the program Prime Minster Kevin Rudd argues will deliver faster internet speeds across the country.He also confirmed a Coalition government would immediately restructure the government’s troubled Building the Education Revolution program.Mr Abbott has also pledged to dump the government’s $600 million budget increase to the renewable energy fund and to slash government advertising by 25 per cent.Opposition treasury spokesman Joe Hockey will next week outline further measures to reduce spending and to increase productivity.Mr Abbott railed against the new mining tax, tying it to an increased cost of living for ordinary Australians.

He argued it would apply to the extraction of phosphate, sand and stone as well to the extraction of minerals, oil and gas and would be applied to small quarries as well as big miners.“It will impact on the price of fertilisers and building materials as well as on the price of energy. It’s a triple whammy tax on the jobs of half a million mining and related workers, on the superannuation of millions of retirees with mining shares and on the cost of living of everyone who uses power.”Mr Abbott said it would increase the effective tax rate of mining from 44 to 57 per cent, claiming Australia already imposed heavy taxes on the extraction of its resources.Mr Abbott said the new tax had already put new investment decisions on hold, citing Rio, Xstrata and BHP as among those companies which had expressed reservations with the measure.

The opposition conceded Australia had survived the global financial crisis in better shape than almost “any other nation”.But he denied this was the result of the government’s stimulus package and claimed credit had to lie with the reforms of previous governments.He made the case that the budget’s predictions about returning to surplus three years earlier than predicted, by 2012-13, rested on the strength and success of the Chinese economy.“Say what you like about John Howard and Peter Costello but they didn’t shirk from the hard reform and they didn’t need to hit miners with extra tax to generate a surplus. Their surpluses were the result of tough decisions, not new taxes.“Let me make this clear: the Coalition will oppose the mining tax in opposition and we will rescind it in government.”
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