9 May 2018
Transcript - #2018075, 2018

The Hot Breakfast, Triple M

Subjects: Budget 2018

EDDIE MCGUIRE:

The Treasurer of Australia, Scott Morrison is a pretty busy man this morning and he's taking some time out of his schedule to speak to the listeners on Triple M's Hot Breakfast. Good morning, Treasurer.

TREASURER:

G'day, Ed, it's good to be there, it's good to see Will and Darce.

MCGUIRE:

Good on you, mate. Now, we're not going to go debating on you because you've been doing that for the last 12 hours straight. Can I ask you, first of all, just to set up for our listeners, where is the money coming from in Australia at the moment? Where have we seen this surplus of money starting to come in and build up so that you've been able to put down this Budget overnight?

TREASURER:

Well, the key issue is people getting in jobs. I mean, when people go from receiving welfare payments to paying tax, that has a really big impact ultimately on the Budget and we now have the lowest level of people who are of a working age being dependent on welfare than we've seen in 25 years. More than 1,000 jobs were created every single day on average over the last year and that's been a big part of it.

MCGUIRE:

And what's driving that Treasurer? What's driving that?

TREASURER:

Well, the stronger economy. Businesses growing, businesses investing again. I mean, business investment has turned around from negative 8 per cent from a few years ago to plus 12 per cent at the moment. So there's been a real turnaround in where businesses are looking into the future and that's really supporting them to invest more, employ more people, which is great. The other thing is...

MCGUIRE:

And just on that, Scott…

TREASURER:

Sorry, go on.

MCGUIRE:

If you could just tell us, why is that? I'm just trying to get the – what's the thing that's sparking this that we need to keep going? What fire do we need to stoke to keep our economy going?

TREASURER:

Well, first of all you need to ensure the taxes don't cripple the economy and you've got to keep them under control and in this Budget I've put a speed limit on how far, how high taxes can go. That's an important protection I think for Australians who are out there earning every day, that the Government won't come and take away from you in tax and that's while we've provided that relief, particularly for lower and middle income families, they're the ones who get the tax relief first, that $530. I mean, that will look after your car rego for a family. It'll put a new set of tyres on the car. It'll pay a quarterly electricity bill. It comes in a lump sum too I should stress, Eddie, and what that means is it comes through your tax return and so that means it is there in that lump sum so they can actually deal with some of those bills they see come through and hit households. So it's also good for young people. I mean, younger people are going into the workforce in those tax brackets which are really going to get the first benefit from this income tax relief.

WIL ANDERSON:

Treasurer, I imagine one of the most exciting things about your job is, you know the opportunity you get to create jobs and put people into work. So on a night when you have to make an announcement that's going to mean that people lose their jobs. How much do you think about that? When you're looking at, you know, the cuts to the ABC knowing that that means, you know ordinary people are going to lose their jobs. They're going to be out of work. They're going to have to look for new work and go onto welfare. Is that something that really concerns you, you think about those individuals as well as, you know, the organisation?

TREASURER:

Well, we're freezing the funding to the ABC. We're not cutting the funding to the ABC and the ABC can live within their means like everybody else will. I mean…

ANDERSON:

Yeah but I mean, Treasurer, I don't mean…

TREASURER:

And the taxpayer…

ANDERSON:

No, but people are going to lose their jobs, aren't they? Because of this…

TREASURER:

No, I don't see why that would be the case at all…

ANDERSON:

If you freeze the…

TREASURER:

Why would that be the case?

ANDERSON:

The next three years and there's no natural growth and they've already cut the budget out of everything there that means people are going to lose their jobs. You've just got to be realistic and honest about that, Treasurer.

TREASURER:

Well, no, no, I think people have to be realistic that the ABC is quite capable I think with living within the budget that they have. Families live within the budget that they have and I'm sure the ABC can do the same thing and what they decide to do is a matter for them. But I don't think it's unreasonable that we should ask them to keep only spending as much taxpayers money as they have been and that's all we've done there with the ABC. I think it's fairly fair, but when it comes to thinking about people's jobs. I mean, more than 1,000 jobs have been created every day in the last year. That's what the Australian Bureau of Statistics has clearly recorded and that is the best jobs growth we've seen in this country on record. So, getting people into work is what we do as a Government and that's done by supporting the businesses that get out there and create those jobs. I mean, the overwhelming majority of people work in private companies. They don't work for the Government, they're out there working for businesses that have to make a quid.

MCGUIRE:

Stick with us, one last one just on the ABC if I could, Treasurer. It's such an important cultural institution. Forget the political alliances, we're talking about telling Australian stories at a time we're being swamped by overseas. Could there not be a layoff where you say, "Right, we're going to tax the likes of Netflix, Facebook, etcetera and parlay that into production into Australian dramas, etcetera, etcetera."? Which doesn't necessarily have to go straight to the ABC, but at least to Australian producers who are producing Australian stories, with a leg-up for those that are actually prepared to actually put them on air.

TREASURER:

Well, look, I'm quite sure the ABC will be able to manage what's in front of them. But the point you make about all these big tech companies is very important. I mean, we've already put the GST on Netflix, people would have noticed that. I mean, we did that as a Government on all digital services and we're also working with other countries around the world to see how we can capture these big tech companies, Facebook and others, in the tax net. It's just not a problem for Australia, it's in the UK, it's in France, it's all around the world. The new economy is great, it brings so many benefits and services and all the rest of it. But, it also has to be broadened to the tax net like every other company and we've already made some announcements there in the last few years – $7 billion of this multinational and other revenue in their sales, we've drawn into the tax net every single year since we have been doing this. But you're right, Eddie, that needs further attention and I'll be releasing some ideas on that in a few weeks' time as well.

MCGUIRE:

Great. Well, because the GST on Netflix I'm paying on that, not Netflix. But, Darce, you've got a question?

LUKE DARCY:

We always think of self-interest first, Treasurer.

MCGUIRE:

No, that's right.

DARCY:

We always go straight to our own back yard and there's a little one that snuck through here, Treasurer, about sports people and high profile people. A fame tax I'm reading about. That's surely a mistake isn't it, Treasurer? You don't want to…

MCGUIRE:

Geez, you're going to get no one coming to your launch now…

DARCY:

The last time you'll get invited to the footy, Treasurer. I'll promise you that, what have you done here?

TREASURER:

Well, what we've done is people, if they earn income, they should pay their tax on it and they shouldn't be able to set up all these newfangled and other-ways-fangled structures and trusts and things like that…

MCGUIRE:

What a small business?

TREASURER:

To avoid paying tax. It's, no, a business. What I'm talking about here is if you've earned money because of your fame, then you should pay the same tax on it as someone whose earnt money going to work and we think that's only fair. I mean, taxes should be lower, simpler and fairer, and that's what we've done in this Budget. We're reducing taxes, we've put a speed limit on taxes. But here's the other bit, they've also have got to be paid and that includes by high profile people who have big fame and earn big dollars because of it.

MCGUIRE:

Treasurer, I think by and large, everyone sees it as a sensible Budget, this particular time, and you haven't gone berserk throwing money in an election build up which is commendable.

TREASURER:

Correct.

MCGUIRE:

Can I put it to you though, when you give a tax deduction and as you said, $10 a week — $500 — that does pay for something, as you go and it comes as a lump sum so you can actually do that, so you know, give that a tick…

TREASURER:

Yep.

MCGUIRE:

So I'm not decrying that but in coming to that decision, did you think about what about if we hold that tax back and then allocate that to certain services, whether it be, you know — I'll pull one out of the air — you know, schools start at 7 in the morning and go until 5 o'clock in some areas to mitigate against people who can't get home help, etcetera, etcetera. You know, there's a myriad of those type of things that you could have picked out there. My point is, are you better off as a Government providing the services rather than necessarily just giving the money to people on a one-off tax deduction?

TREASURER:

Well, we're doing both and this is the key, Eddie. I mean, schools funding, for example, is at over $18 billion, it's higher than it's ever been and it will keep increasing under what we announced in last year's Budget. It will go to $30 billion or thereabouts over the next ten years. So we're investing heavily in schools. But what pays for it is the stronger economy…

MCGUIRE:

Yep.

TREASURER:

And if you do things that harm the economy then you can't pay for these services, and that's why if you allow taxes to go too high, if you don't allow people to keep what they've earned, well, that's a disincentive. It's a disincentive for someone who's already on site this morning listening to us this morning, or on their way to work on the tram, or sitting on a freeway somewhere out there on the Monash freeway. And that's why, you know, as last time I was down talking to you guys, we were talking about infrastructure. And in Melbourne…

MCGUIRE:

Yep.

TREASURER:

In particular, the Tulla Rail is a cracker and you know how long that's been waiting and we're right behind that. But there's a range of other important economic infrastructure in Victoria we're supporting. You know, it's electrification of the lines going south out towards Geelong. It's all about, you know, doing the things that build a stronger economy, because that's how you pay for the services, Eddie. You don't do it by just jacking up taxes and killing the economy.

ANDERSON:

Hey Treasurer, could I ask this one? We all remember a couple of years ago when Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott had a Budget that they couldn't get through. Are you confident that most of this stuff will actually get through, and we will actually see it implemented?

TREASURER:

Yeah, it's a very good question, Wil. I mean, we've learned a lot over the last few years and we've passed $41 billion worth of sensible savings to the Budget just since the last election alone. I mean, our strike rate when it comes to getting things through the Senate, particularly Mathias Cormann the Senate Leader, has been very successful. And I believe it will be the same case for this Budget. I mean, there will always be measures where, you know, people argue the toss. That's fair enough. But our track record on this, and particularly under Mathias' strong negotiating skills — he's pretty formidable and he's getting the job done.

DARCY:

Hey Treasurer, just before we let you go right on our 7.30 news — you've got a massive day. Is there a little thing that got through, a little project, that hasn't been spoken about that, you've got a minute, you want to tell us about in this Budget?

TREASURER:

Well, there's many, but I mean, there's the ones on superannuation. This is particularly important for people on lower incomes. We're banning exit fees…

MCGUIRE:

Yeah.

ANDERSON:

Yeah.

DARCY:

Good one.

TREASURER:

On superannuation…

MCGUIRE:

Well played, three votes for that.

TREASURER:

So there you go.

MCGUIRE:

[laughs]

TREASURER:

There's plenty more but we haven't got the time.

MCGUIRE:

We actually spoke about it just before with Scott Pape who liked it as well. Hey, one quick one — and I know we've got 15 seconds to go.

TREASURER:

Yeah, yeah.

MCGUIRE:

You're going after chop chop which is the illegal cigarettes.

TREASURER:

Yes.

MCGUIRE:

Again, well done there. Did you consider at any stage even going the next step, which would be the logical step, would be to decriminalise marijuana and get some of that real black money into our economy?

TREASURER:

No. What we've done in this Budget is we've also put a ban on cash payments of more than $10,000, so if people who are sitting around with big bags of cash, if you're a criminal, if you're in a bikie gang, if you're a terrorist, or you're someone who's just trying to avoid paying tax, it's not ok. It's not clever. It's a crime and we've given the ATO and others resources to come and make sure you can't do it.

MCGUIRE:

Ok, we'll be able to go through the banks instead…

ANDERSON:

I was going to say exactly, yeah.

MCGUIRE:

[laughs] The other terrorist bikie group. Good on you and, Treasurer, we appreciate you coming on this morning. It's a big document, obviously, and clearly vital to our national health going forward. I suppose the only other thing you have to worry about is what Donald Trump is going to do in the next five minutes. Does that make any difference here? Are oil prices going to go through the roof now that he's pulled out of Iran?

TREASURER:

Well, we've been very conservative on all of these things. I mean, all of the forecasts I've put in Budgets over the last three years, we've always ended up on the conservative side of the line. And, you know, you've run businesses, Eddie, you know you've got to be cautious about those sorts of things and you've got to always look for the surprises on the upside, not the downside. And that's what we've done in this Budget.

DARCY:

Thanks for joining us, Treasurer, we really appreciate it.