Bud­get over­hall calls

Townsville Bulletin - - National Snapshot -

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’’.

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