26 April 2018
Transcript - #2018052, 2018

Interview with Karl Stefanovic, Today

Subjects: Fully funding the NDIS without increasing the Medicare Levy; Budget 2018.

KARL STEFANOVIC:

Treasurer, good morning.

TREASURER:

G'day, Karl.

STEFANOVIC:

You've been likened this morning to the Karate Kid: 'Tax on, tax off'.

TREASURER:

Well, it's good news today, Karl. It's good news for families and people suffering with disabilities because we're fully funding everything for the NDIS and we're doing that because we've got a stronger economy. It's good news for taxpayers because we can do it without having to increase the Medicare levy and it's good news for all Australians on the Budget because we're able to do this and keep on our track absolutely to bring the Budget back to balance. So, it's good news.

STEFANOVIC:

The reality is you weren't going to get it through the Senate though.

TREASURER:

Well, it hadn't even gone to the Senate yet, Karl, and as we prepared the Budget what was clear is that we no longer needed this measure to do what we were intending for it to do and that was to fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme. Now, that was the goal, we're able to achieve that goal through a different method and I'm not for putting up taxes where I can avoid doing it and I can avoid doing it here.

STEFANOVIC:

So you wake up one morning, Scott Morrison wakes up one morning, he looks under the bed and 'hey presto', there's $8 billion?

TREASURER:

No, it doesn't happen like that, Karl.

STEFANOVIC:

How does it happen?

TREASURER:

We've seen the economy now improving over the last 15 months or so, we've seen the economy improving. Over the early part of this year and the latter part of last year we started to see the tax collections that were coming from companies, doing better, come into the coffers and we could have greater confidence about revenues into the future. And as that continued to confirm as we prepared the Budget, it was clear that we no longer had to do this and so I'm pleased as punch that we don't. And I'm pleased as punch for people with disabilities that we can guarantee them those funds from a stronger economy.

STEFANOVIC:

You only proposed this levy – and that's the point – about 12 months ago. How can you get the forecasting so wrong?

TREASURER:

It's a year from when we last had the Budget, Karl. The economy improves and we take a very conservative approach to our Budgets, we don't go off and spend money that isn't there, we take a very conservative approach to our forecasts and when things get better, it means that we can do things like this which is important.

STEFANOVIC:

If you got it wrong 12 months ago, how can you be so confident that you've got the forecasting right now?

TREASURER:

No, we were conservative 12 months ago, Karl. We didn't over assume on the revenue, we were conservative. Now, things are better than we thought they were and that's the better place of that argument to be on. The worst place is you over assume your revenue and then you end up with a deficit – that's what we got from the Labor Party.

STEFANOVIC:

How can you guarantee that you're going to get all that money though?

TREASURER:

Because the economy is continuing to strengthen and we're seeing it in actual money going into the actual coffers. It's not based on a forecast, it's based on what we've already seen happening and that is the strengthening of our economy because at the end of the day, Karl, if you want to guarantee Medicare, if you want to guarantee the NDIS, if you want to guarantee schools funding, the way you do it is through a stronger economy and that's what this Budget will be about.

STEFANOVIC:

And you didn't know that 12 months ago?

TREASURER:

It's stronger than it was 12 months ago, Karl. The world has changed a lot in the last 12 months and that's a good thing when it comes to the economy. Global forecasts have picked up, businesses have been doing better, we've invested in those businesses through our tax cuts for small and medium-sized businesses and as you know, we want businesses to pay less tax across the board so they can invest even more in their businesses, jobs and wages.

STEFANOVIC:

So, you can guarantee though this morning there'll be no cuts to the National Disability Insurance Scheme?

TREASURER:

Absolutely not. It's fully funded from a Coalition Government, under a Turnbull Government, because we are the Party that knows how to manage our finances, live within our means and focus on growing the economy because that's what pays for it.

STEFANOVIC:

That is a good thing. Your company tax cuts though are dead, aren't they?

TREASURER:

No. Not at all.

STEFANOVIC:

Are you sure?

TREASURER:

Yes, I am. We will continue to pursue this, Karl, for this simple reason: why would we force businesses to pay the Government more money when we want them to invest more in growing their business, employing more people and boosting people's wages? That's what it's about…

STEFANOVIC:

Well, there's a little something called the Senate where you can't get them through.

TREASURER:

…Now, it's been a tough negotiation. Well, we got very close last time we sat and we've kept working on it and we believe strongly in this. We're doing this because we know it grows the economy and when you grow the economy, you can afford the NDIS, you can afford Medicare, you can afford schools…

STEFANOVIC:

Treasurer, it's okay. You've had a win today. You can concede a defeat and that is a defeat in the Senate.

TREASURER:

No, I don't at all, Karl, absolutely not. We remain committed to this and we're going to keep arguing it through the Senate because it's good for jobs, it's good for investment, it's good for a stronger economy.

STEFANOVIC:

Former Prime Minister John Howard's come out today saying some of the welfare cuts that Labor and the Coalition have enacted go too far, any sweeteners in this Budget coming up?

TREASURER:

Well, the Budget's in just under a fortnight, Karl…

STEFANOVIC:

Alright, here we go…

TREASURER:

I'll deliver it on that night, not this morning, mate.

STEFANOVIC:

[laughs] Alright.

TREASURER:

[laughs] Nice try, we'll have a bit more to say between now and then but it's great to talk to you.

STEFANOVIC:

We look forward to more leaks in the coming weeks. Good on you, Scott. It is a good thing this morning, thank you.

TREASURER:

Thanks, Karl.