Transcript ABC 24, Capital Hill interview with Lyndal Curtis

Release Date: 
28 November 2014
Transcript
E&OE

Topics: Victorian State Election, GP co-payment

LYNDAL CURTIS:
Alan Tudge, welcome to Capital Hill.

ALAN TUDGE:
G’day Lyndal.

LYNDAL CURTIS:
Do you think the Victorian Government may be the first one-term government in Victoria in about 60 years or are you a little more optimistic?

ALAN TUDGE:
I'm certainly optimistic. It's going to be an exceptionally close election this weekend and in essence it’s a pretty clear choice for Victorians. Do they want Denis Napthine and his plans to build the East West Link, to continue the Budget being in surplus, to keep the AAA credit rating or do they want to choose Daniel Andrews who’ll rip up the East West Link and who’s joined at the hip with the CFMEU?

I think I know where Victorians are going to vote.

LYNDAL CURTIS:
I'll let you get that one list out at the start.

Isn't the problem for the Victorian Government that the polls really haven't tightened up enough towards the end of this week to look like they can go into election day with a good chance of winning?

ALAN TUDGE:
There were two polls which came out this morning. One showed 50-50, the other showed 52-48. And as you know, typically going into an election day there's often 10 to 15 per cent of people who make up their mind in the last 24 hours. So this election is absolutely open and it will be seat by seat which we'll have to examine on Saturday night.

The other important point of course is there's been about 800,000 votes already cast either through pre-poll or postal votes so it's absolutely up in the air. We're going to be working very hard right up until the final closure of the ballot and we're still confident we can get over the line.

LYNDAL CURTIS:
You've mentioned some of the things you think the Victorian Government has done well. On the down side, how much did the chaos created by Geoff Shaw hurt the Government?

ALAN TUDGE:
Listen, it never helps having, in essence, a hung parliament which they've had to deal with. But at the same time the Napthine Government has got an impressive array of achievements despite having a hung parliament. They've got the Budget back under control, they've got an enormous infrastructure plan, they've put an additional 1700 police on the ground, they've got over 900 police what's called Protective Services Officers on train stations for the first time.

LYNDAL CURTIS:
I'm going to interrupt that list for another question. State elections are often solely about state issues and the implications are solely about state issues but your Government handed down a tough Budget this year and there's been constant talk about the Budget since then because of the difficulty you've had getting it through the parliament. Has that tough Budget muddied the waters for the Victorian Government?

ALAN TUDGE:
We did hand down a tough Budget because we promise we'd get control of Labor's debt and deficit disaster and we are doing that.

At the end of the day, I think the Victorian public is clever enough to be able to separate out what are state issues and what are federal issues. And they know that this Saturday when they vote, they have a choice between Denis Napthine and his record and his plans and Daniel Andrews and what his record is and what he will plan to do, including tearing up the East West Link and destroying 7,000 jobs in the process.

LYNDAL CURTIS:
Although before the last federal election Tony Abbott visited Victoria so many times he said in interviews that Melbourne was like his second home. During this election campaign he’s only been there three times and one of those was accompanying the Indian Prime Minister. Isn't that a signal that perhaps he's not as popular in Melbourne as he used to be?

ALAN TUDGE:
As you said, Lyndal, he's still been down in Melbourne and in Victoria at least a few times during the campaign.

Every single day in the Federal Parliament this week he was answering questions and promoting the view that a vote for the State Coalition is a vote for growth, building infrastructure, for an investment in a cardiac hospital. So he's been doing as much as he can given he's been in Canberra all week and still having set foot in Victoria a few times during the campaign as well.

LYNDAL CURTIS:
Although Julie Bishop’s down there today. Is she a better face for the Government at the moment?

ALAN TUDGE:
She's a fantastic face for the Government. She's doing an outstanding job and she's out there campaigning with Denis Napthine today in the seat of Bentleigh which is a must-win seat for us - or a must-hold seat. And she, like the rest of our frontbench, are doing what we can to ensure the re-election of the Napthine Government.

LYNDAL CURTIS:
The end of this week in federal politics, though, has been marked by a degree of confusion over the future of the GP co-payment. You're a Parliamentary Secretary, a member of the frontbench, can you explain what is happening with the GP co-payment?

ALAN TUDGE:
We have a plan to introduce a GP co-payment in order to ensure that Medicare can be sustainable in the long-term because at the moment it’s forecast to grow from something like $10 billion to $20 billion in a relatively short amount of time.

Our aim is to put in a small price signal but to nevertheless have a safety net and still allow GP’s to bulk bill should they choose to do that.

LYNDAL CURTIS:
Was the plan you announced at budget time still the plan or is there some doubt about whether it's still the plan?

ALAN TUDGE:
That is still our plan. As you would have heard from the Health Minister and the Treasurer yesterday and we want to see this important reform introduced. It was reform, by the way, first introduced by the Hawke Government.

LYNDAL CURTIS:
And then they dumped it.

ALAN TUDGE:
Then they dumped it but we've had Labor’s Assistant Treasurer- he advocates for it. Labor introduced a co-payment for the PBS and in essence what we’re arguing for is a similar co-payment for going to the doctor as you have for purchasing drugs.

LYNDAL CURTIS:
Alan Tudge, we'll have to leave it there. Thanks so much for your time.

ALAN TUDGE:
Thanks Lyndal.