No 'magic pot of money' for Australia floods: PM

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard today defended her plan for a one-off tax to pay for the flood disaster, insisting there was no "big pile of money" to pay for the rebuilding.
HT Image
HT Image
Updated on Jan 28, 2011 12:01 PM IST
Copy Link
AFP | By, Sydney

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Friday defended her plan for a one-off tax to pay for the flood disaster, insisting there was no "big pile of money" to pay for the rebuilding.

Gillard, who has been prime minister for seven months, has ordered a levy on middle and high-earning tax payers to help fund the recovery after deadly floods that devastated the northeast state of Queensland.

Conservatives have criticised the plan, with opposition leader Tony Abbott warning the levy could become permanent and accusing the government of being irresponsible with its spending.

But on Friday Gillard said she could not dip into a government contingency fund or extend a budget deficit to pay for the unprecedented deluge, which wiped out farms and flooded mines.

"It is not true to say to Australians that there is a big pile of money there that somehow I could just go and use," Gillard told the Seven Network.

"It doesn't just sit there, this is not a magic pot of money that can be rolled out in the face of an unprecedented natural disaster.

"The contingency reserve is necessary to keep the budget on track."

Asked about a Seven Network poll in which 93 percent of the 4,500 people who phoned in said they did not want to pay a levy, Gillard said she believed Australians did want to make a contribution to Queensland's recovery.

"And let's remember more is being done in budget cuts than is being asked for from Australians in a levy," she said.

The one-off tax announced Thursday aims to raise about Aus$1.8 billion ($1.8 billion) to help meet the Aus$5.6 billion cost of the La Nina-triggered floods which have also hit the southeastern states of Victoria and Tasmania.

The levy is weighted to earnings, meaning 60 percent of taxpayers will pay less than Aus$1 a week.

Gillard has stressed the revenue was needed to ensure the budget is back in surplus by 2012-2013 when the economy is expected to be running at full capacity.

"I think Australians around the country realise this is a time where we need to pull together," she told ABC Radio earlier Friday.

"We are seeing a natural disaster of unprecedented economic proportions still unfolding in our country."

Gillard, who holds a wafer-thin majority in parliament, will require the support of independents to pass legislation to impose the tax after Abbott said his conservative bloc would vote against it.

"My view is there should not be a new tax. We do not need new taxes to cope," he said.

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • UK PM names Nadhim Zahawi as new finance minister after Rishi Sunak resigns

    UK PM names Nadhim Zahawi as new finance minister after Rishi Sunak resigns

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson late Tuesday named his Iraqi-born education secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, as finance minister after the shock resignation of Rishi Sunak. Downing Street said Queen Elizabeth II had approved the appointment of Zahawi, who came to Britain as a child with his Kurdish family not speaking any English, before forging a lucrative business career. The prime minister named another loyalist, Michelle Donelan, to take Zahawi's place at the education ministry.

  • In July 4 US parade shooting, gunman fired over 70 rounds, says police

    In July 4 US parade shooting, gunman fired over 70 rounds, says police

    The gunman who attacked an Independence Day parade in suburban Chicago fired more than 70 rounds with an AR-15-style gun that killed at least seven people, then evaded initial capture by dressing as a woman and blending into the fleeing crowd, police said Tuesday. More than 30 people were wounded in the attack, including one who died Tuesday, task force spokesman Christopher Covelli said. Robert Crimo spent several weeks planning the assault, Covelli said.

  • Scandinavian airline SAS filed for Chapter 11 to tackle its debt burden.

    Scandinavian Airlines files for bankruptcy in US as 1,000 pilots walk-out

    Scandinavian Airlines on Tuesday filed for bankruptcy in the United States, warning a walkout by 1,000 pilots a day earlier had put the future of the carrier at risk. The Stockholm-based SAS airline group said it had “voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 in the U.S., a legal process for financial restructuring conducted under U.S. federal court supervision.” Filing for Chapter 11 in New York puts civil litigation on hold while the business reorganizes its finances.

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak walk out of Downing Street.

    UK FM Rishi Sunak, health secy Sajid Javid quit in protest against PM Johnson

    UK cabinet ministers Sajid Javid and Rishi Sunak on Tuesday resigned from their positions saying that have they lost confidence in Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Treasury chief Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid resigned within minutes of each other. Javid also posted the same on Twitter. Johnson has been hit by allegations he failed to come clean about a lawmaker who was appointed to a senior position despite claims of sexual misconduct.

  • File photo of Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (AFP)

    US' Antony Blinken to meet Chinese foreign minister at G-20, silent on Russia

    Secretary of State Antony Blinken will hold talks with his Chinese counterpart this week in Indonesia at a meeting of foreign ministers from the Group of 20 bloc of the world's leading industrialised nations, the State Department said Tuesday.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Wednesday, July 06, 2022