SENATOR THE HON KATY GALLAGHER
Minister for Finance
Minister for the Public Service
Minister for Women
Date: Monday, 8 May 2023
NATALIE BARR, HOST: A surplus is looking more and more likely in tomorrow night's Budget, with the Government revealing this morning almost $18 billion in spending will be re-prioritised to new areas.
MATT SHIRVINGTON, HOST: That amount includes the previously announced scaling back of certain Defence projects, but also factors in new savings identified across a number of government agencies. For more, we're joined by Finance Minister Katy Gallagher, good morning to you. Let’s go through it then. So describing this almost $18 billion as "savings" is a bit of a stretch, aside from Defence, where is the money going to be taken from?
SENATOR THE HON KATY GALLAGHER, MINISTER FOR FINANCE: Hi Matt and Nat, and thank you for having me on. What you've seen, and we did a bit of this in the October Budget where we found savings within the Budget, is we've identified areas right across Government. So once you take out that defence save and reprioritisation, which you pointed out, it really is across-the-board. We've gone to every department, every minister and asked them to look at where they can find savings within their budget. Because it's not just a matter of adding on spending all the time. We have to have some fiscal discipline and so this means looking at what you’re already doing and whether you could do differently and ministers have been great on that and the Budget will show all of that and it’s right across the board.
BARR: So savings means cuts to somebody, will we wake up on Wednesday morning and people will say, “that the project that I was sweating on in my regional area or something is now no longer?”
GALLAGHER: What you'll see is, I don’t want people to think that there is some sort of slash and burn approach to this Budget. It's not that at all. What we’ve been trying to do within the confines of a huge Commonwealth Budget is find areas where we can use the money a different way. It might be to the same group, it might be just slightly differently. So we have tried to be really considerate of the impact on people, but the reality is the Budget is in structural deficit. We’ve got a lot of debt to pay off and we can't just add and add and add spending to the Budget. So, people know that. When they do their household budgets, it's the same thing. We’ve got to look at where we use money and think if there's other ways of doing it to get better outcomes and people will see the results of that on Tuesday night — just about a day away.
SHIRVINGTON: How will some of that money be spent, because families are feeling the pain across-the-board, cost of living relief, in which ways will that happen? We know there will be an increase potentially of $40 per fortnight for Social Security payments. That'll still be below the poverty line, though. Is getting this Budget back to surplus more important?
GALLAGHER: We're trying to do a number things with the Budget. A massive part of it is the cost of living relief package and that’s in the order of about $14.6 billion. So people can see how seriously we've taken that. Part of it is around fiscal discipline, so how we repair the Budget to make sure we’ve got room to fund services into the future. And part of it is about investing in opportunity for people as well. So, you can't see one decision in the Budget in isolation. A Budget is hundreds if not thousands of decisions that lands or tries to find the right balance. People will see that on Tuesday night but cost of living relief is a huge part of it and how we target that to make sure we’re not adding to the inflation problem has been central to our thinking.
BARR: We’ve reported this morning that the Government will announce today an increase to the single parenting payment, the Prime Minister has said lowering it was a mistake. A Labor Government did that I understand. Do you agree with what is happening?
GALLAGHER: Well I’m also the Minister for Women and this been a big issue that has been raised with me from women. Obviously, women are 90% of the single parent families. Having that cut off or that reduction in income when your child turns eight, I think it's really had impacts and people have felt that really deeply. So we’ve been looking at that. I’m not going to get ahead of any announcement that the Prime Minister might make but we have been looking at it carefully. We’ve been thinking about how we can provide relief and we’ve also been thinking about how we can support women and the choices they make and economic equality is part of that, as part of our thinking in this Budget. You'll see that and the results of that on Tuesday night.
BARR: That is sounding like a yes, though, Minister?
GALLAGHER: I think people have to wait and see. I know we’re in this frustrating bit where we’re just a few hours away from the Budget or about a day and a bit away. I find it frustrating too, but the Budget will be handed down by the Treasurer at 7:30 tomorrow night.
BARR: Okay, thanks for your time.
Lisa Glenday 0403 931 209 | Gallagher.Media@finance.gov.au