TREASURER: There are many important days in the Australian Parliament and this day is no different. This day is very important for Australia because what Australia needs at this very sensitive time in our economic transition is a national plan for jobs and growth that will reassure every Australian about the path we're on to make our way through this transition.
All around the country today this transition is being felt differently. There are some parts of the country that are really moving ahead and that's great to see but I know that there are other parts of the country, and Ewen Jones will tell me about that up in Townsville or Rowan Ramsey will tell me about that down in Whyalla, where this transition is being felt far more acutely. That's why tonight's Budget has to be a national economic plan.
It's not a typical Budget, it's not an ordinary Budget – this is a Budget that has to deliver a plan for jobs and growth. Sweeteners won't change the circumstances for the people who are facing difficult times in our economy. A national plan for growth and jobs is what they need and that's what they'll get in the Budget tonight. What they'll see in that plan tonight is that we'll stick to our jobs and growth focus, that we will ensure that we will deal with the specific problems in our tax system, that means we can secure the future of the commitments we have to future generations. That we will live within our means as a government, as Australian householders and businesses are doing, to ensure that we can balance the Budget and reduce the debt over time. These are the key conditions that our Budget will meet tonight and that's what we will be focused on and what we'll present this evening. It will be an important day. It's a clear plan for jobs and growth, it's a clear plan for us to move to a stronger economy, more diversified economy, as we continue to make this successful transition from the mining investment boom to a more diversified, strong economy today.
QUESTION: It's not going to be an ordinary Budget because the re-election of the Turnbull Government depends on it, doesn't it?
TREASUER: What this Budget is about is focusing on the future economic prosperity of all Australians. That's what's important about it and that’s what’s unique about it in these very specific times. Whenever the Budget is held, what is most important is that it delivers an economic plan for jobs and growth.
QUESTION: Treasurer, Labor is refusing to confirm whether it will support a tax cut for those on $80,000 – is such a cut necessary and fair?
TREASURER: All I know about Labor's plans is that they have a plan to tax people more, to chase their higher and higher levels of spending but as it was revealed last night in the official Treasury information, Labor has a gaping black hole of around $20 billion over the next 10 years on their excise proposal and even more worrying than that is they've got a $3.2 billion hole over the Budget and the Forward Estimates. Bill Shorten said he wanted to run the country like a union. He's clearly using the book-keeping skills of unions. Last night Chris Bowen sought to dismiss a $20 billion black hole as a rounding error.
You can't go out there and make commitments to the Australian people and not be able to back it up with how you're going to pay for it. The way we are paying for our affordable commitments for health and education, the affordable commitments for health and education, is by having done the hard work on the savings that are needed to ensure that we can deliver on those commitments.
Labor's come up with a plan like they did on the mining tax. They said it would raise all this money, it would build all this infrastructure, it would change people's superannuation, it would do all of these things. Well, it did none of those things because once again they got it wrong. What we know from Labor is they’ll always want to tax you more, so they can chase higher and higher levels of spending, but when it all comes crashing down you get let down and you end up paying more. That’s not what’s in our plan tonight. Our plan is an affordable plan, it’s a sustainable plan and it seeks to support all Australians by driving the growth that is necessary to ensure that we make this transition successful.
QUESTION: Doesn’t that plan also include, Treasurer, adopting a lot of Labor's tax increases?
TREASURER: We'll announce all of our measures tonight, Mark, but the difference between us and Labor is where they increase taxes they do that to chase higher and higher levels of spending. What you'll see in our Budget tonight is that where we've been able to raise revenues in other areas like cracking down on multinational tax and closing off generous concessions that exist in superannuation at the very high end, we'll reinvest that back into the productive capacity of our country by ensuring a lower tax burden, particularly for small and medium sized businesses, to ensure that we continue to drive growth. You cannot grow the economy by putting a $100 billion additional tax burden on the economy. You can't do that and think that's going to help growth and jobs. So, that's where we're different to Labor. Yes, Labor will hike up taxes, they'll put them up as high as they can, and when they work out that those taxes don't raise enough money to pay for their higher levels of spending as we saw last night, they'll keep putting the taxes up. By contrast, we've got an affordable plan that can meet its commitments. It's real money that will go to real schools and real students, not the sort of phony accounting we saw in the union movement that Labor seems to be modelling their approach on.
QUESTION: Do you think you've done enough to allay the concerns of Moody’s and other agencies?
TREASURER: What you'll see in the Budget is again consistent with what we said in the mid-year update – a very clear path towards Budget balance. What you'll see is expenditure as a share of the economy continuing to fall and that is the way to a sustainable surplus. You don’t get to a Budget balance and be able to sustain it by just ramping up taxes and ramping up spending. That is not a sustainable plan for Australia, it’s not a plan for jobs and growth. What all will see tonight is our plan delivers on our commitment to ensure that our spending as a share of the economy falls over the Budget and Forward Estimates; that the deficit falls over the Budget and the Forward Estimates. Not based on rosy- coloured glasses when it comes to forecasts or taxes that don't raise the money that Labor claimed they would, but on careful considered plans that Australians can rely on for jobs and growth.
Thanks very much.