Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham
Minister for Finance
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for South Australia
Date: Tuesday, 11 May 2021
Simon Birmingham: Well happy budget day. Today, Australians will see the Morrison Government hand down a budget that will continue to see Australia through the COVID-19 uncertainties. To keep Australians safe, to focus on continuing to grow jobs for Australians through economic security and, of course, to invest in the essential services that Australians rely on. So this will be very much a budget focussed about getting us through COVID, keeping us safe, driving the jobs growth and investing in those essential services like aged care, disability services and mental health.
Journalist: So it's a big spending budget. We can clearly assume that [indistinct]?
Simon Birmingham: Well this is a budget for what are globally uncertain times. We can see the health catastrophe in India. We can see in Europe a double dip recession occurring, and we want to make sure we keep the strength in the Australian economy. But of course, we've still been very careful making sure that we manage Australia's debt levels carefully against the size of our economy so that we continue to hold an advantage relative to the rest of the world by keeping our debt lower as a nation compared with so many of our competitors.
Journalist: We're expecting a response from the government to the aged care royal commission to be contained in the budget suggestions that have been more than 10 billion dollars over four years. Some economists have said that it needs to be more like 10 billion dollars each year rather than over four years to really address the systemic problems in the sector. What guarantee can you give to Australians that you're actually going to fix the shocking state of affairs in aged care?
Simon Birmingham: People will see that tonight's budget has a comprehensive response to the aged care royal commission that our government initiated and that we are investing significantly in that response. It's a once in a generation to step up and investment in aged care that is comprehensive. It will touch on issues of safety, on issues of quality, on issues of workforce and on issues of availability. It will be addressing issues across the residential care sector, as well as the availability of support in the home to ensure we give Australians the choice to stay at home and to get the care they want there. I think people will see this as a very comprehensive response in relation to the aged care royal commission and that we are working to make sure we achieve the turnaround in that sector that can give people the confidence that they will get the care that they and their families expect.
Journalist: On the issue of the NDIS, we're expecting to see at the cost of the programme is going to go to thirty billion dollars more than what Medicare actually costs and you might actually be quite interested to see who is walking up behind you at the moment, Minister. About a hundred and thirty dollars billion cost of the NDIS at a time when there's a debate about the sustainability of that system issuing changes like the use of independent assessments. Again, what guarantee can you give to the public that you're not going to see that rising cost as an opportunity to cut a programme that is so vital to the lives of so many Australians?
Simon Birmingham: Our government promised to fully implement and fully deliver and fully fund the NDIS. And that's what people will see in tonight's budget. But we are fully funding the NDIS with more than $17 billion in additional funding, and that is supporting a record and growing number of NDIS participants, exceeding some 500,000. Now this is about delivering a programme that is life changing for many Australians. It is world leading and providing this type of insurance, care and support to people living with disability that we are proud to have implemented. It is important to make sure that we keep that programme sustainable for the future, but that's about ensuring it is there for everyone who needs it. And what people can see is we are investing and committing in the budget the dollars that are necessary to do so.
Journalist: Your department has carriage of the Comcar fleet. Are you aware of protests happening out of their Comcar depot in Fyshwick today by extinction rebellion protesters?
Simon Birmingham: First, I've heard of it, but Australia is a free country and people are allowed to protest wherever they want as long as it’s within the law.