26 April 2018
Transcript - #2018051, 2018

Interview with Samantha Armytage, Channel 7 Sunrise

Subjects: Fully funding the NDIS without increasing the Medicare Levy; airport parking.

SAMANTHA ARMYTAGE:

Treasurer Scott Morrison joins us now. Treasurer, good morning.

TREASURER:

Good morning again, Sam.

ARMYTAGE:

Nice to see you again. Two days in a row. Now, this was a major part of last year's Budget. What's changed in last 12 months that's allowing you to perform this major backflip?

TREASURER:

The stronger economy – that's the reason. We've been focused on building the economy. As you know more than 1000 jobs are being created every day and that has really assisted where the Government's Budget is. What the win is today is for families and people suffering with disabilities. They are fully funded for the NDIS. We don't have to do that any longer by increasing the Medicare levy. So, that is a win for taxpayers and it's a win for the Budget as well, because we remain absolutely on track to bring that Budget back into balance when we said we would. So, when you don't have to increase a tax – you shouldn't. When you are able to achieve the objectives of ensuring that people are living with disabilities, their families and carers can have the guaranteed funding that they need – that was the objective. We are achieving that. We will achieve that and we don't need the Medicare levy to do it.

ARMYTAGE:

With all due respect, your economic forecasting last Budget was a little bit off, wasn't it? This is $57 billion we are talking about.

TREASURER:

It was conservative, Sam. We don't go out there talking up revenue and spend it before we believe it's going to come in. What has happened over the last 12 months, and we have seen it particularly in the economy, that the economy improving enables us to do this. So, yes, we are conservative with our forecasts. We don't spend money that we don't have. We do take a cautious approach. That's what a responsible budget does. What all this means is you can't guarantee any of these essential services: hospitals, schools, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, aged care without a stronger economy. Our Budget will be focused absolutely on continuing to strengthen the economy, because that is what pays for everything.

ARMYTAGE:

How much did the public backlash against this levy affect you on this?

TREASURER:

There was no public backlash against it. In fact…

ARMYTAGE:

For the Medicare levy to be increased by 0.5 of a per cent?

TREASURER:

No, there wasn't. I got support all around the country for it. That is where I think the Labor Party pulled the wrong rein. They took a very opportunistic position on this and I note they still are today but that is about politics this is about supporting people with disabilities. Australians were quite prepared to do this. They thought it would be a good thing to do to support people with disabilities. But, I tell you, if you don't have to do it, then you shouldn't. And we don't have to do it now and we won't be doing it.

ARMYTAGE:

Now, we are hearing there will be income tax cuts in the Budget in a couple of weeks. Will there be?

TREASURER:

We always believe in lower taxes and last November the Prime Minister and I said we would be focused on tax relief for middle income earners and low income earners. Nothing has changed there but the details of where we are going there we will announce in a few weeks' time.

ARMYTAGE:

We never begrudge an income tax cut but next year is an election year, is it just a sweetener? Why not give income tax cuts last year or the year before that?

TREASURER:

Well, last year we weren't in a position to do that. In my first Budget we actually changed the income tax threshold from $80,000 to $87,000. Where we can do it, Sam, we always do but you have got to do it responsibly and nothing we will do in this Budget will be irresponsible when it comes to the nation's finances. When the economy improves, we want all Australians to benefit. That means ensuring they pay less tax and that they have the essential services that they can rely on and we can give that guarantee from a stronger economy – not from higher taxes.

ARMYTAGE:

Treasurer, while we have got you. A big story today, there is some new data that shows how much the major airports are raking in from parking – $145 million a year from the Melbourne Airport, $135 million at Sydney Airport. Obviously, they are privately owned but should there be tighter controls on how much airports can sting people for parking?

TREASURER:

This is one of the reasons why we want more competition out there. That is why we are building Western Sydney Airport, that's why we want to build a rail line from Melbourne CBD to Tullamarine. That is why people should take the train if they want to, to get out to Sydney Airport, which I know people are increasingly doing. It is a private company, you're right about that. We are not, in this country, people who go around and set price controls on things in private business any more than we would tell advertising companies what they can charge to run an ad on Channel 7 or 9 or anyone else. That would be interfering in that model. But we will provide the infrastructure which gives people choices. I mean Tullamarine Rail, $5 billion – we have put our money on the table there. We want a genuine partnership with the Victorian Government to get that done. It has been waiting 40 years, just like the Western Sydney Airport has been waiting. On both cases, the Turnbull Government is just getting it done.

ARMYTAGE:

Yes, please don't interfere with how much commercial TV networks can charge advertisers. Alright, Treasurer, thanks for your time today. We will see you soon.

TREASURER:

Thanks a lot, Sam.