Budget overhall calls
KEY independent MP Rob Oakeshott has called on the Gillard government to sell Medibank Private and cut the public service to achieve better value for the taxpayer dollar.
Mr Oakeshott, one of four c r o s s - b e n c h e r s t o r e a c h agreement with Labor to form minority government, also warned that ‘‘ extreme xenophobia and protection- ism’’ jeopardised economic reform in Australia.
In a broad-ranging speech to the National Press Club in Canberra y e s t e r d a y , Mr Oakeshott said the government needed to take some tough economic decisions.
‘ ‘ We should . . . not be afraid of exploring some sacred cows of economic reform over the coming years – for example, the sale of Medibank Private,’’ he said.
‘‘ It is really a hangover from governments past.’’
Mr Oakeshott said the coming Federal Budget needed to make significant cuts to the public service to enable more money to be put into services, especially in regional areas.
‘‘ This is me trying to signal to government that don’t go lightly in this budget – it’s got to be a reform budget – for good and for bad and for the right reasons,’’ he said.
Mr Oakeshott said his proposed l aws t o allow t he auditor-general to examine government business enterprises would also turn up the heat on the public sector to s p e nd t a x p a y e r s ’ money wisely.
‘‘ Our full reform agenda becomes so much harder un- less efficiency is burned into the brains of all of us in public administration,’’ he said.
O n b r o a d e r e c o n o m i c measures, Mr Oakeshott called for greater foreign investment, backing the proposed joining of the Singaporean and Australian stock exchanges which he said would make Australia a ‘‘ regional powerhouse’’.