Tony Jones on Lateline tries to get Rudd to say the words "three hundred billion dollars."
See how he gets on:
TONY JONES: OK. Let’s move on. What’s the peak figure of the projected public debt in terms of tens or hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming years? What’s the peak figure?KEVIN RUDD: Well, these are clearly outlined in the Budget papers and they’re usually expressed in terms of a percentage of GDP. We peak, in around about 2013, at about 13.8 per cent of GDP.TONY JONES: How much of that is in tens of billions or hundreds of billions of dollars; how much is that?KEVIN RUDD: Well, let me step back in terms of the elements of this. First of all, 70 per cent of our overall position here is determined by a $214-billion collapse in tax revenue. That’s one slice of it.TONY JONES: OK. I understand - we understand that. So what is the figure of peak debt in hundreds of billions of dollars? What is the actual figure?KEVIN RUDD: Well, Tony, I’m about to come to that when I go to constituent parts. About $214-billion comes from a collapse in tax revenue and that is happening right across all the advanced economies across the world. That’s about two thirds of it. Then you go to the remaining third of it, which is made up of what we’re investing in infrastructure and other forms of temporary stimulus. And of that remaining one third of our total borrowings, the largest proportion is made up through infrastructure investment and the smallest proportion is made up through other forms of temporary stimulus. Put that altogether…TONY JONES: But all I’m asking for is one figure.KEVIN RUDD: Well, I’m about to come to that, Tony. I’m taking you to the constituent parts. Put all that together and you’ll see clearly outlined in the Budge papers, that we’re aiming to a gross figure of 13.8, which comes out at about $300-billio). The Liberals have said about $275-billion and then they’ve failed to nominate or to support $22-billion of savings in the Budget, which makes our positions virtually identical. That’s the point I was making.TONY JONES: That figure is $300-billion, is that right?KEVIN RUDD: As I said before, 13.8 per cent of GDP as described accurately in the Budget papers. There’s nothing new about that.TONY JONES: Is there a political spin rule which says the Prime Minister must not say that figure? Because it seems very hard to get you to say $300-billion.KEVIN RUDD: Well, Tony, there seems to be a political spin rule on your part to go back to this time and time again. The Treasurer made this absolutely plain in the Budget papers. I said before the figure was 300 as the Liberals’ was 275.
Jones then gives up. But in the transcript, Lateline adds “billion” after Rudd’s answer of “300”. Just in case you thought Rudd really did mean the $300 he seemed to suggest.
Not that K R Puff'n'Fluff ever really suggested $300. But gee, seeing him do everything he could to avoid saying $300 billion was amusing.