10 November 2015
Transcript - #2015044, 2015

Doorstop interview, Canberra

SUBJECTS: Superannuation; providing real opportunities for Australians who want to work, save and invest; Newspoll; National Platform for Economic Growth and Jobs.

QUESTION:

Can we just start off with the story in The Australian, Scott, about superannuation. The Government could be looking at a single tax rate for people on their superannuation savings?

TREASURER:

The Government is looking at a range of issues on superannuation and I have been very clear on this for some time as has the Prime Minister. What we are seeking to do on superannuation is ensure that people are independent in their retirement and that the tax incentives that are applied to superannuation are ones that best put Australians who are at risk of not being independent in retirement in a strong position. I’ve talked about the need for greater flexibility over people’s working lives, I’ve talked about the need to make sure those tax incentives are targeted. I’ve also talked about the need for some stability and certainty in the superannuation system and that those who have already been saving have some certainty about what the treatment would be when they are in the retirement phase. I think we have laid out some very clear principles on how we are dealing with superannuation. When we are dealing with superannuation we are interested in making sure Australians are independent at retirement. What the Labor Party does when they look at superannuation is they just see a big bag of tax.

QUESTION:

Another positive Newspoll this morning despite what the Prime Minister says has been a scare campaign from Labor on the GST. Does that show that with this policy the Government is selling it better than in the past?

TREASURER:

I think what we have seen today is that the respect that we are showing to Australians, that we understand that the electorate is sophisticated, that we understand that they are more than capable of having politicians, interest groups, others in the community openly debating important issues and I can’t think of too many more important issues than how are we going to grow our economy and grow jobs. The debate we are having at the moment is not about tax, it is about how we grow the economy and how we grow jobs. Overnight the OECD made it really clear that Australia needs to make their tax system more growth friendly and that is exactly why we are engaging this debate. You don’t need to increase the GST to balance the Budget, that is what Labor thinks. They think you put up taxes to balance the Budget and now they have got some idea about tobacco taxes or whatever. They are always about increasing taxes to balance the Budget. You balance the Budget by controlling your expenditure and having policies that grow the economy because that is what helps Australians earn more. That is the reason you have trade agreements so Australia can earn more. We want to see Australians earn more and they earn more by removing the things that are getting in their way and personal income tax today – the silent tax, the forgotten tax is stinging Australians who are working hard and trying to get ahead. We need to remove some of those impediments as much as possible to ensure that we don’t hold the economy back because our tax system is holding back Australians who are working hard and saving for their future and investing in their own capabilities and opportunities.

QUESTION:

Do you see merit in proposals for a single personal tax rate?

TREASURER:

Look, there will be any number of proposals that come forward and the Government is working constructively through all of those proposals. One of the things I think we have seen today from the Australian people is they are rewarding the Government for not engaging in this old, boring, combat politics that we saw from the opposition yesterday that treats the Australian people with contempt, that says they are not capable of actually holding more than one thought in their heads at any one time. That might be the opposition’s problem but it’s certainly not the Australian people’s problem and the Government doesn’t have that problem. We are more than capable, like the Australian people, to have an adult, mature, sophisticated conversation about how we remove the impediments that are holding our economy back.

QUESTION:

If Malcolm Turnbull sticks to that September/October election period that he talks about how soon before then would you like to have the reform package out?

TREASURER:

Well there is a Budget in May, we will be putting a Green Paper out on these and other related issues next year, because remembering that this is a package about how you grow the economy – not just how you might seek to change the tax system. There is an innovation statement coming out before the end of the year, this is addressing the same challenge. So, all of these issues we will continue to roll out between now and the next election and what we will be doing though is listening carefully to the Australian people. Yesterday, I met with some local suburban accountants from Windsor and we were talking about how the tax system could be made better to support their clients who are out there running small businesses in Western Sydney. They’re the sort of conversations that are really informing how we can take our tax system forward to make it more competitive.

QUESTION:

Given there is that whole year still to go until that period, how important is that electoral mandate? Can we get things rolling sooner rather than later?

TREASURER:

Well, the Prime Minister, I think, has already set out what his expectations are about the Government running its full term and that means in the interim as the Treasurer I have got a lot of work to do. That is why I am staying at home working on these issues from now to Christmas particularly when it comes to MYEFO, there is the innovation statement, there is the response to the Harper Inquiry. We have already had the response to the Financial System Inquiry where there is further work to be done. So the Government is very hard at work on the policies that we know will remove the impediments from the Australian people to be able to get ahead. They just want the Australian Government to back them in and that is exactly what we are doing whether it is on the tax system, whether it is the Free Trade Agreements that were passed in the Senate last night, whether it is the innovation statement, making our services more competitive with competition policy reforms – the list goes on. This is all part of a platform for strong jobs growth and a strong economy.

Thanks a lot.