Rudd dismisses claims policy made on run

PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has defended his economic plan for northern Australia after it emerged senior Labor ministers were left out of the loop on the policy.
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ON THE TRAIL: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd kisses 10-month-old Jemima at Westfield Carousel in Perth yesterday. Picture: Andrew Meares

Employment Minister Bill Shorten and Resources Ministers Gary Gray only learnt about the proposal on Thursday – the day Mr Rudd announced it in Darwin – raising concerns that he was making policy on the run.

Mr Gray, who represents the West Australian seat of Brand, was keen to allay concerns it would drain skills and jobs from other parts of the country to the Northern Territory.

“There is a lot of time to work out the details,” Mr Gray said.

Visiting Perth yesterday to announce a new oil and gas research facility, and visit a shopping centre, Mr Rudd said he stood 100 per cent behind the policy to provide a 10-percentage-point corporate tax break for NT firms and boost funding for the Ord River scheme.

“The ministers I’ve been working with most closely recently on this policy have been the Treasurer, the Finance Minister, and of course our broader leadership group,” Mr Rudd said.

“You would expect that during an election campaign . . . when the final product of a policy is put out, that the ministers are informed of that at that time.”

The Prime Minister said the Coalition was running a distraction campaign on Labor’s internal processes to divert voter attention from its “plan” to cut health and education.

Asked if they were in his sights for budget savings, shadow treasurer Joe Hockey didn’t rule it out.

“I’m not going to give any on-the-run guarantees. I don’t do that,” Mr Hockey said.

Mr Abbott was more direct, saying he would be “spending money more wisely” in health and education, but said he didn’t intend to make cuts in those areas.


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