21 March 2016
Transcript - #2016035, 2016

Press conference, Sydney

SUBJECTS: Supporting Australia’s FinTech future; Budget; Australian Building and Construction Commission

TREASURER:

It’s been great to be here to announce the release of our Backing Australian FinTech paper here today, and to particularly be back here at Stone and Chalk, who have been a tremendous innovator of bringing the whole FinTech sector together. I want to acknowledge all those that play a role in that, as I just have in my statements.

The FinTech sector is going to be a very important part of how our economy continues to transition in the future; how the Australian economy continues to transition in the years ahead is the key economic challenge we face. And we need to deal with the risks to that transition and that needs to be addressed in all elements of what the government does - every lever that we pull.

Our Budget needs to support the transition of our economy by ensuring that the tax burden is kept as low as possible and expenditure is kept under control. It’s important that in areas like innovation and infrastructure and investment, we’re doing the things that support jobs and growth. 

And whether it’s in the construction sector, which is why we have such a strong view about dealing with the ABCC.  To bring the rule of law back more strongly in the construction sector, a place where more than a million Australians rely for their employment, and is so critical to the cost of developing, not just in the commercial area but in the residential area as well.

You need to have investment to drive the transition of our economy, whether it’s in FinTech, or whether it’s construction, or whether it’s in services, or whether it’s in mining and resources or whatever part of the economy. Investment is the key and this is a government focused on driving investment to drive jobs and growth.

QUESTION:

So on that budget issues Treasurer, when did you find out you're going to an early Budget May 3rd?

TREASURER:

At the Cabinet meeting this morning at 10.

QUESTION:

You were very ambiguous yesterday about it. What do you feel about going a week early?

TREASURER:

I don’t think I’ve been ambiguous about it at all. Previously people asked me what day is the Budget, May 10, and that's what it was until I was advised this morning that it will be on May 3.

QUESTION:

Did you have input into that? Did want it to go a week early?

TREASURER:

These are matters for the Prime Minister to determine. And it's my job to deliver the Budget. It's his job to decide on what day it's delivered.

QUESTION:

How scared are you now that you will have to do it a week early? Will there be a lot of work going on there?

TREASURER:

I'm looking forward to it with great excitement because this Budget is incredibly important at this point in time. It's important because we have to continue to successfully manage the transition in our economy. Australians know that we're faced with difficult times globally but yet they also know that despite that, despite that, our economy grew at 3 per cent real last year. They knew that 300,000 jobs or thereabouts were created last year. Last week we saw the unemployment rate come down again to 5.8. Last week we saw the youth unemployment rate fall again. This is all good news. So, they know that there are challenges and they know Australians should not be intimidated out of their prosperity. The Budget will be designed to ensure that we're backing in jobs and growth by backing in the investment that drives jobs and growth.

QUESTION:

Did you factor in a double dissolution into your Budget?

TREASURER:

They're matters for the Prime Minister.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, on the FinTech investment, your Government and yourself personally have put a lot of time and effort on this sector. That's not where the jobs of the future are going to come from though?

TREASURER:

I disagree. What I said in inside was that the role that FinTech has in lubricating the economy more broadly is vital. Last week we announced changes we'd be introducing to competition law in this country which would give small business a better go in our economy, to free up competition, to focus on the consumer. Equally, FinTech advances have the potential to radically transform how competition plays out in the Australian economy, to connect customers with businesses like never before. It will unlock demand. That's the exciting thing about what we're talking about here. It unlocks demand. I mean, the Labor Party likes to drive demand by spending and spending and spending which means they have to tax and tax and tax you. What we understand as a government is to support the transitioning economy, you need to do things that help support investment. That back sectors like this, that are transforming and transitioning our economy. We've got our eyes very focused on the future of our economy, into our economy of the future, and these are the sorts of changes that support that.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, given that you’ve got…

TREASURER:

You’ve had a few, why don’t we share them around a bit

QUESTION:

On another topic, you're close to Jim Molan ...

TREASURER:

Why don't we stay on things on the economy at the moment? If people want to talk about politics they can.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, Arthur Sinodinos made comments potentially flagging company tax cuts. Has he overstepped the mark making those remarks?

TREASURER:

The Budget is on May 3. The Budget is on May 3 and the contents of the Budget will be revealed on May 3. What I've said today is, and I think this is entirely consistent with what Senator Sinodinos has said, we have to focus in the Budget on things that are going to drive investment. I mean, it's investment that is going to set up the next phase of our transition, particularly in the non-mining sector. Now, there are already some green shoots in this area but it is critical that as we frame this Budget, that we single-mindedly look at the ways to which investment can be supported to drive jobs and growth. I mean, people's jobs depend on the continuing transition of this economy. And you don't put that at risk by spending, spending, spending and taxing, taxing, taxing as Labor will do.

QUESTION:

You're comfortable with Senator Sinodinos making those comments before Budget?

TREASURER:

I think I’ve just answered the question.

QUESTION:

The financial services industry provides 10 per cent of the economy in terms of jobs. FinTech, which are delivered by platform, that's all about actually pulling out costs – how will it actually create more jobs?

TREASURER:

We've already seen that the way it innovatively can bring capital to a market and to players that previously couldn't access it or in the way they needed to or in the time they needed,  completely transform how a business can get set up and get running and start connecting with its consumers. When I have talked to the FinTech advisory group it's a bit like this: with a start-up running like many of those here at Stone & Chalk which are working to get some things off the ground. They might have six, maybe nine, I’m looking at Alex, about six to nine months to actually try to land something and get some traction on it. Now, I would like them to have the opportunity to try and work on about three or four good ideas in that period of time, rather than working on just one and spending the rest of the time complying with regulators. I mean when you give entrepreneurs that scope and that time and that space to make something happen, then that's good for the economy. And that's the sort of innovative drive that we need in this economy right now to support the transition that is taking place.

QUESTION:

Are you going to be ready by May 3?

TREASURER:

Of course and I’m looking forward to it! Looking forward to it, because it's going to be a night when Australians once again see that this is a government that is focused on jobs and growth. This is a government that is focusing on supporting the positive transition that is taking place in our economy. We're not intimidated by it, we're not intimidated by the world circumstances. We're growing and generating jobs in spite of that; and we can continue to do that so long as we remain focused and determined on driving the investment that drives jobs and growth.

Thanks very much.