26 April 2018
Transcript - #2018057, 2018

Doorstop interview, Sydney

Subjects: Fully funding the NDIS without increasing the Medicare Levy; Financial Services Royal Commission.

QUESTION:

Are we going to get anything more than you being able to say that your Government doesn't raise taxes?

TREASURER:

What this is, is saying to families with disabilities, carers, that the National Disability Insurance Scheme under a Turnbull Government will always be fully funded. That is what it's about. We previously sought to do that through other measures, not just the Medicare levy. We also previously sought to do it through savings and that hadn't been supported in the Parliament. Our plan to focus on a stronger economy is what is going to guarantee the funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme and not just that scheme, but all other essential services. That's what we're saying. We need to focus on continuing to deliver a stronger economy because that will give and guarantee Australians the services they rely on.

QUESTION:

Can I ask you about your fiscal rules? You referred to them, one of them, as you know, says the overall impact of shifts and receipts and payments due to changes in the economy will be banked as an improvement to the Budget bottom line. Will that still hold in this Budget or will you give away some of the fruits of the improvement in tax cuts?

TREASURER:

What you will see is that the Budget is going back into balance on the timetable that we have noted. The details of that Budget will be set out in a couple of weeks, Peter, and you will have the opportunity to read it cover to cover like the school students I've just been speaking to and I have no doubt you passionately will. The rules that we've been using to continue to guide our path back to balance have been incredibly important and we have been banking those. Our forecasts, as you know and I think you've written before, have been quite conservative, particularly over the last couple of years. And as improvements have been achieved, that is why we've been able to better the final Budget year outcomes than we had previously estimated. So, we will continue to follow that practice.

QUESTION:

Will that remain in the Budget?

TREASURER:

As I said, I outline our Budget on Budget night and I don't plan to make any other announcements on those things today or necessarily at any other time.

QUESTION:

Disability advocates say that they have fought for years to get the certainty of funding that the levy was going to give them. What do you say to them?

TREASURER:

The NDIS is fully funded and guaranteed from the Turnbull Government.

QUESTION:

But you're not going to be there forever. If it was there in a levy, it would be [inaudible] rather than haggling each Budget.

TREASURER:

I'm not a fan of increasing taxes when there is another way to achieve that goal and we are achieving that goal through the alternative mechanism. What I announced today is good news for people with disabilities and their families and their carers because we are guaranteeing the funding, all of that funding that's there for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, guaranteeing it all. We are saying to taxpayers that you will not pay more for that and we're saying to all Australians that the Budget will not suffer for it.

QUESTION:

You spoke about your brother-in-law, Garry, today, have you told him about this change?

TREASURER:

Yes.

QUESTION:

And how did he react?

TREASURER:

Garry was pleased. Garry wants to see the NDIS fully funded. As I remarked, he has an extraordinarily generous and rightly generous view about his fellow Australians. So, where we're able to achieve what people with disabilities need and not have to increase the tax burden on Australians, well, he is a taxpayer too, so he is happy about that.

QUESTION:

Is there a case for tax indexation? There is speculation this morning, maybe informed speculation…

TREASURER:

No, it is not.

QUESTION:

…that over 10 years there will be a phased program of tax relief. Is there a case for, I suppose, guaranteeing that you will give people back the results of bracket creep over time? Rather than one-offs?

TREASURER:

Again, Peter, I know there is not that many more sleeps before Budget and you will be staying awake most nights waiting. I will not be bringing the Budget forward to today to answer that question.

QUESTION:

Treasurer, to change the subject a little, the Royal Commission in Melbourne, the banks and so on have been pilloried, but we have also seen that a lot of it could have been avoided by APRA or ASIC taking a stronger role. When will they be in front of the Royal Commission?

TREASURER:

That is a matter obviously, to the extent of who is called and when and how, they are matters for the Royal Commissioner, they're not matters for the Government. It is a completely separate independent process. I have no doubt these are issues that will be delved into by the Commissioner at some point in time. That said, that is one of the reasons why one of the first things we did, the action that we took and continue to take, one of the first things we did was to increase the resources for ASIC, to increase their powers. Just last week, together with the Minister for Financial Services, Kelly O'Dwyer and I, announced an increase to those penalties and resources and powers for ASIC. So, they had the tools to get on and do the job that they need to do as a cop on the beat. I have no doubt there will be commentary and suggestions made about how any number of agencies could have been doing something differently. The fact is that the Australian public can take great comfort that this is a Government that takes action and has taken action and will continue to take action. Whether it was ultimately on initiating a Royal Commission itself or the increased penalties resources and powers that we have provided for those enforcing these matters, or it was the new laws that we have legislated, already, to hold banking executives accountable. All of these things we have been doing. The Australian public wants to know one thing about our banks, financial services, superannuation and insurance companies, and it's is the Government dealing with them? And we are dealing with them and they know it.

QUESTION:

Are you prepared to extend the term of the Royal Commission if asked?

TREASURER:

Of course we are.

QUESTION:

Have you been asked?

TREASURER:

No, I haven't. Thank you.